A Halftime Pep Talk

The popping of the Internet bubble, and the “poor, pitiful me” stories (with laugh tracks) that followed, have managed in three months to become clichis in their own right. (Give the media herd a thump on the rump for that one.)

While the rest of the press is moaning about how everyone hates us “dot-communists”, I figured it might be nice to talk about what survived the deluge.

Start with more than $800 billion in new stock market capitalization. Even after the crash (we were once at approximately $1.5 trillion) the Internet economy is worth a ton. That’s real value, earned value, value based on sales and earnings (versus Value America). Amazon.com alone is still worth more than $14 billion, with sales that should easily top $2 billion this year.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg. Sure, a lot of content and e-tailing companies fell and can’t get up, but there’s more being spent on web advertising today than on radio advertising. Despite a few thousand layoffs, we’re still employing millions of workers, and anyone who does lose a job quickly finds another one after sifting through several attractive offers.

Thanks to the Internet boom, fans of the Dallas Mavericks, New York Islanders, and Washington Capitols (to name just three) now have new billionaire owners to laugh at. Time magazine this week focused on what Internet money is doing to change the nature of philanthropy.

And there are plenty of industries still fighting rear-guard actions against the implications of the Net and plenty of walls left to batter down. It’s not only the auto business the liquor business and pharmaceutical business (not to mention the music and entertainment businesses) have yet to be fully transformed. There are still plenty of people who find something sinister and maybe illegal in what we do here. Our work is far from done.

There are still plenty of business models left untested as well. Steven Brill just launched a totally virtual company called Contentville. All its content is recycled from various publishers while all its design and fulfillment operations are outsourced. It’s pretty slick, and it might fall flat on its face!

We still haven’t solved that pesky privacy problem yet, either. How do you give people the discounts they want without making them work for the discounts and trade the personal data that make up their lives like Pokimon cards? That was a good question five years ago, and it’s still a good question.

If you need one more incentive to get out of bed and fight this morning, there’s always Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. Ballmer complained last week that there’s still too much money going into Internet start-ups. No doubt he’d prefer we all stick it into Microsoft stock. How about we get some start-up money and put it to Ballmer where it’ll do some good?

And when the going gets tough, and the opposition is hard, just remember David Stanley (alias Michael Fenne) of Pixelon, who raised $30 million for an Internet video start-up that turned out to be phonier than a Clinton alibi. That’s right let’s win one for the gyp-per.

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