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Road-kill On The Information Superhighway 9 June 2000 Edition
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The "dot com" companies that could once do no wrong are now coming to the cold hard reality that the honeymoon is over and it's about time they started turning some profits -- or at least trimming back some costs.

As a result of this realisation, investors are backing away from throwing more money into those companies which have already failed to meet expectations, and are demanding that others get serious about paying attention to the bottom line.

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Over the past week or 10 days we've seen a raft of rather sobering announcements out of the USA as a result of this turnaround in investor sentiment.

Dot-coms are dropping like dot-flies and perhaps the most worrying thing is that it's not just the "IveGotADumbIdea.com" ventures which were clearly nothing more than an attempt to make quick cash from the investor frenzy that was rampant last year which are stumbling.

4 APB News laid off all 140 of its staff this week and is running in "maintenance mode" at present after it was unable to secure more funding to sustain it's operations. This site isn't just another wannabe, it's a highly respected, award-winning news site with some top-line journalists who focus on one of the hottest areas of online news. That they've been unable to convince investors that they're worth backing does not bode well for the many thousands of sites with half as much potential or credibility.

Then we find that 4 Salon.com, 4 CBS's Internet division and 4 oxygen.com (a site which has the immense financial backing of Oprah Winfrey and Paul Allen, Microsoft's co-founder) have all laid off staff and announced cost-cutting measures.

However, Salon.com and Oxygen.com are the lucky ones -- a growing number of other good quality websites are simply being shut down and becoming nothing but road-kill on the information superhighway. Their bones may be picked over and the domain name recycled -- but by and large they will simply cease to exist and investors will be left nursing their wounds.

Even the "untouchable" Ireland has suffered a few dot-com casualties in the past few weeks with the loss of more than 100 jobs as startups falter and die in the new harsh climate of accountability.

I guess in this regard New Zealand could call itself lucky -- but only insomuch as properly funded capital-rich Net ventures are so thin on the ground that the carrion feeders were never likely to get more than the smell of a meal anyway.

And it doesn't pay to be too negative -- after all, even though we're going to see a growing number of carcases and smarting investors, there are just as many -- if not more -- who will continue to make good returns on good ideas and sound management. In this regard the Net is no different to any other marketplace -- some live, some die.

While there will always be some losers -- there's no chance of winning if you're not playing the game and the rewards still greatly outstrip the risks.

From Yesterday
First up a big thanks to all those who emailed me echoing my sentiments in respect to the government's continued mismanagement of NZ's opportunities in the new economy and wishing me well on my investigation of the US-option.

Thanks also to those who thought I was being petty, boring, selfish and a right-wing toady (clearly they didn't read my comments on the National-led coalition last year did they?).

I'll be publishing those which were marked "for publication" next week because there's some very interesting perspectives and opinions that I think are worth sharing.

A number of ex-pats who have already jumped ship and regular Aardvark readers from overseas also emailed me and, without exception, they all agreed that moving myself and my ideas to a more new-economy-friendly country was a wise decision and that I'd be unlikely to regret it.

It is with my likely departure in mind that I let readers know that I have a number of Net-properties I'll be selling off shortly.

These include the domain names politics.co.nz, sunday.co.nz, talkback.co.nz, news.net.nz and sports.net.nz.

Likewise, my portal site (which is sitting here waiting to be commissioned in full) at here.co.nz is also for sale as a turnkey portal/community site that I have no doubt is a generation ahead of anything else on the NZ or world scene.

More information next week.

As always, your feedback is welcomed.

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