2001: Through the Looking Glass

Yes, the year 2001 was quite eventful for Internet commerce. Just as in 1999 no one could have predicted the 2000 Nasdaq crash or the dot-com failures, as we near the end of 2001, no one can guess what will happen in 2002. But then again, it’s always fun to try. Let’s take a “look back” at the highlights of 2001 as we hope (and pray) that 2002 will be at least twice as good:

January — On Inauguration Day, webcams freeze up from the cold. Paul Begala admits to Clinton nostalgia at 12:02 p.m., and Oliver North agrees with him. Former President Bush is given “permanent” charge of the Lincoln Bedroom. “It’s grandpa’s room now,” says the new president.

February — Lured by new laws giving him a tax holiday and low rents, Jeff Bezos announces that his company will move its headquarters to Manaus, in the heart of Brazil’s Amazonia. “We really are Amazon.com,” he jokes.

March — Former TheStreet.com guru and stock market wiz James Cramer is arrested outside a party hosted by Donald Trump to honor The Donald’s latest wife. Cramer wears a sandwich signboard reading “Will pick stocks for food.”

April — With the Nasdaq hovering at around 1,500, former Merrill Lynch Internet analyst Henry Blodget is found in the Nunavut capital of Iqaluit, where he says he has opened a Frigidaire dealership.

May — Microsoft Corp. cofounder and chief software strategist Bill Gates insists there is no Internet recession. “It’s just a little depression,” he says. Microsoft stock is “rallying from lower levels” at $10 per share.

June — Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan announces another cut in interest rates, to one-and-a-half percent, but the Nasdaq breaks through the “psychologically significant” 1,000 barrier anyway. Greenspan is blamed because when asked about the impact of the move by a reporter, he replies, “It doesn’t matter to me. I have a job.”

July — DoubleClick cofounder Kevin O’Connor, a longtime follower of philosopher Ayn Rand, founds the religious order of Randianites to spread her message. Its first commandment, he says, is to eat the poor. “They’re lower in cholesterol than the middle class.”

August — Former President Bush is found to be renting out his Lincoln Bedroom and sleeping instead in a broom closet near the Oval Office. “Have to supplement that Social Security thing,” he says. His son the president awards him a pardon and a Medal of Freedom for entrepreneurial enterprise. “We need more entrepe, entrepree, free enterprise,” he says proudly.

September — Major League Baseball announces that the World Series will be played in cyberspace at its web site since all the teams except the Montreal Expos and Kansas City Royals have declared bankruptcy. The Expos win in seven, but no one cares.

October — On the 52nd anniversary of China’s National Day, a Chinese company that is 51 percent owned by China’s Ministry of Information Industry buys Yahoo.com for $1,000 cash. Cofounder Jerry Yang announces that he is returning to Stanford for graduate school. “I’m changing my major to history. I want a job that lasts,” he says.

November — With the Nasdaq hovering at 500, a ticker-tape parade is held to honor Amazon’s Jeff Bezos after he announces that aggressive cost cutting, the move to Brazil, and what he terms “a little luck” has brought Amazon its first quarterly profit. Former analyst Henry Blodget, found bagging groceries at a store in Iqaluit, announces that he’s making a comeback and recommends that people buy Amazon stock.

December — Amazon’s profit is shown to have been nothing but creative bookkeeping by Blodget. Former analyst Cramer makes a fortune pressing the ticker tape into logs and selling them for firewood. The two men announce a new Internet investment site that will be called “Greaterfool.com.”

2002 can’t be any worse.

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