Thursday, October 05, 2006

Best Memories of the Internet Bubble

Maybe it's all the talk of Facebook being bought by Yahoo! for $900 Million and Web 2.0 on Techcrunch and other sites. Or the tales of its founder Mark Zuckerberg cavalierly refusing to meet Microsoft officials for an 8am meeting because he doesn't get into the office until 10:30am. However, it's got me pining for the heyday of the dot-com bubble.

Here are my "Best of" memories of before the bubble burst:

  1. Mike McCue delivers pizza to the Stanford computer lab at midnight to recruit engineers. Mike is a great guy. In some ways, he was a perfect dot com CEO: photogenic, young, well-spoken, and a little brash. Good for him and Angus for sticking it out.
  2. Carly! Brought in to turnaround HP. Carly Firoina declared in 1999 that "someday there will be books written about what we're doing." George Anders writes about current HP Chair, Dick Hackborn, recommending Carly to the Board in his book the Carly Chronicles: '"I could see he was dazzled by her," fellow director Patricia C. Dunn recalls. "He was really excited about her vision for the company. She had a feel for the company's strengths and weaknesses. It corresponded with his feel." Hackborn expressed mild concern about Fiorina's lack of a technical background, but that wasn't a top-priority worry for him. "We may be getting one of the top two or three CEOs of our generation," Hackborn declared. "She could be the next Jack Welch."'
  3. invests in At the time, Jeff Bezos said: "We invest only in companies that share our passion for customers. has a leading market position, and its proven management team is dedicated to a great customer experience, whether it's making a product like a ferret hammock easy to find, or help in locating a pet-friendly hotel." Then-CEO, Julie Wainright, commented about the competitive online pet space at the time: "I've never seen so many companies in a category, and they may all get funded. I don't think there's room for two. It'll be a bloodbath with huge cash outlays and low margins. It's a tough business."
  4. George Sheehan leaves Andersen Consulting (Accenture) to lead Webvan. In 1999, George Sheehan bolted from Andersen Consulting to join Webvan. A copy of his employment agreement is here. Shaheen negotiated a personal insurance policy and a retirement package to pay him $375,000 a year from Webvan for the rest of his life. However, with Webvan's demise, this was worthless. Don't we miss the Webvan cup-holders at PacBell Park?
  5. If you lived in NY during the bubble, how could you not miss Kozmo? With their bicycle delivery folks bringing a stick of gum to your desk in the late afternoon, it was heaven. When they announced a partnership with, to help deliver Amazon customers' books, the analysts cheered. Ken Cassar, an analyst at New York research firm Jupiter Communications said: "Now, if you order from Amazon you live on the whim of UPS."
  6. goes public. Offer price $9. First trade $87. I remember being in a Columbia Business School class that morning when it happened. Someone ran into the class and announced it and the room broke into spontaneous applause.
  7. "It's About Capturing Eye-balls". The rationale for Microsoft's acquisition of Hotmail in late 1997. The CSFB analyst who coined this phrase didn't realize it would become a mantra for years to come.
  8. E*Trade Monkey. Best Superbowl commercial. La Cucaracha. A Chimp. Two Guys in checkered shirts. And $2 million.
  9. Henry Blodget's $400 price call on Amazon. It was the "call" heard round the world. Andy Kessler's book has great stories from it. Here's a link to a passage from Andy's blog. Good luck to Henry.
  10. Jeff Bezos is named Time's Person of the Year in 1999. Congrats. He left DE Shaw in 1994 and he's still going strong at AMZN.

Got other good memories of the Bubble? We'd like to hear them below....

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