The graveyard of dot-com disasters is overflowing with grandiose ideas gone spectacularly bad, and Philip J. Kaplan's F'd Companies offers an unapologetically acerbic opinion on dozens of the most outrageous. Kaplan, a programmer turned consultant whose own online dreams began when he launched a bulletin board system for pirated game software back in 1989, pulls no punches as he bluntly dissects Web failures that remain dazzling for their pretentious plans and audacious executions. There are big names like Webvan ("a classic example of PAYING more for products than they were SELLING them for") and Go.com (a "portal to nowhere"), but most here are less well known despite similarly burning through cash like a cyber-brushfire. In language far more explicit than his softened-for-the-bookstore title, Kaplan skewers the likes of Iam.com (which lost $48 million trying to convince models and actors to post their portfolios on the Net), OnlineChoice.com (which spent $20 million to learn consumers weren't interested in group buys of electricity and other utilities), HeavenlyDoor.com (which sunk $26 million into a site peddling caskets and burial plots), and Eppraisals.com (which dropped $15 million on an effort to sell online evaluations of antiques). The result is consistently profane, frequently hilarious, and usually right on target. --Howard Rothman
"I'm a computer programmer," Kaplan writes. "I'm that dude at your office in the dark cubicle who nobody listens or pays attention to (especially the hotties in marketing)." Kaplan's claim to fame is FuckedCompany.com, a Web site he built over Memorial Day weekend in 2000 to serve as a forum for bad news about Internet companies. His timing a few months after the Internet bubble began to deflate was perfect, and FuckedCompany became an immediate hit. Thousands of fired or about-to-be-fired dot-commers were more than willing to share their horror stories about the collapse of one Internet company after another. He has translated the material posted on the site into a book, offering brief vignettes of the demise of more than 150 Internet ventures. His basic formula includes a description of what the company purported to do (Mercata.com "customers would use the site to band together and purchase merchandise at wholesale prices"), how much money it blew through before going bankrupt and how many people were fired ("$89 million and 100 employees were burned"). Kaplan, 25, attempts to enliven each story with humor, which is often more crude than clever. That many of the stories sound the same is not Kaplan's fault, as most really are: someone comes up with an idea, finds a venture capitalist willing to pour funding into the company despite the flimsiest of business plans, and then goes broke when the money dries up. Although he tries, Kaplan delivers little more than an elegy for the Industry Standard, Pets.com, Contentville.com, Flooz.com, Bid.com and Kozmo.com, not to mention Zing.com, ProcessTree.com and MetalSpectrum.com.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
This book is a very sad rant by Pud (Kapaln), himself a washed out dot.commer.
Here is a guy who rips into many companies from which he ran banners on his site. Read more
Classic Pud here. I'm guessing he did this on purpose, just to flaunt something, not sure what. Literally Cut, Paste, Spell Check, Get 1,000,000 check. End of story.Published on Dec 11 2003 by Ccole
I was expecting a little more substance from the book, perhaps some deeper examples and some better analysis and dirt and gossip from the wackoes that ran these dot coms, but the... Read morePublished on Aug. 19 2003 by Dariushd
Kaplan should be commended for both his book and FC website. Investing in companies can be dangerous, especially small tech startups. Read morePublished on Feb. 18 2003
I was in fact one of those who didn't quite enjoy those times... there was this company who used to sponsor my site, had hundreds of dollars debt with me, then one day I received... Read morePublished on Jan. 18 2003
I enjoyed f'dcompany.com during the big flame-out of 2000-2001. It was nice to see which other companies were going under while mine (ubo.com) was in the process of being f'd. Read morePublished on Jan. 15 2003 by C. Ruth
I had read the ... website pretty regularly, and when I heard about the release of this book, I knew it was something I had to have. Read morePublished on Jan. 10 2003 by Kate N.
This was definitely worth the money. I saw an exerpt in PC Magazine or someplace and decided to go ahead and get it. Read morePublished on Dec 26 2002
Some might complain about the writing style, however I find it entertaining. It's a very easy read and I like the fact that the summaries on the businesses are short and to the... Read morePublished on Dec 18 2002 by Rodney