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F'd Company

Mark Edwards

F'd Company is a book written by Philip J. Kaplan about his website f@#$edcompany.com I can't spell it literally without triggering your content filters. The site was built as a joke in May 2000 to gather news of dot-com failures. What Philip aka Pud didn't expect was that the site would become an instant success and a highly ranked source of information on failing tech stocks.

Within days he was being chased for interviews by leading magazines. Time Magazine voted his site number 6 in their Best of 2000 issue.

Like his site name, his writing style is irreverent to say the least. He has no reluctance to pillory inept CEO's who manage to collectively burn their way through billions of dollars of investors funds and leave their employees on the scrapheap.

Although the dot-com boom and bust seems like a fading memory, his site is as busy today as it was during the heady days of 2000.

Whilst I worked for a Silicon Valley dot-com, we would use Pud's site to keep an eye on our clients to see if any were in danger of joining the ranks of "the dot-com dead pool".

Reading Pud's book brought back many memories. In fact, some of the companies he talks about were clients of mine, albeit briefly.

The book is a crude but hilarious look at some of the most notorious of those failed Internet ventures. Even whilst I laughed, part of me felt sick at the prodigious waste of money catalogued in page after page of failed ventures.

Here is a great example.

Online drugstore Rx.com had over $350 million in venture capital. "Regardless, Rx.com was a classic example of how technology can really f$%^ sh%^ up. This company had $350 million to build a f$%^ing website and market it a little. I mean, if they spent $1 million a year, they could have been around for hundreds of years without a single sale."

"But no, they had to build a wildly complicated, incredibly expensive beast of a web application. All this technology and equipment was of course maintained by a highly paid staff and a wasteful and excessive management team."

"The best part of this sh%^ sandwich is that once it was up and running, nobody wanted to come take a bite. Well I guess a few did out of novelty, but the mad geriatric online rush of prescriptions that was supposed to happen never did."

"Word is that Rx.com's employees couldn't even order prescriptions from Rx.com. If their own employees couldn't buy from Rx.com, who was supposed to?"

Sadly, some of these lessons are still being learned over and over and over again. I think Pud's website will be busy for many years to come.

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