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Where's The Imagination? 5 September 2000 Edition
Previous Edition

Entrepreneur and "pretty rich guy" Eric Watson wants out of Flying Pig after the online retailer turned out to have a voracious appetite for investor funds and a rather strong aversion to profits.

Well duh!
Readers Say
Don't copy -- innovate. Don't compete - RobK

Have Your Say

How do people like Eric Watson make their money? I mean -- what on earth possessed the man to invest in a business which was an almost perfect clone of another online business that also burns investor cash like it's going out of fashion (which it is).

I refer of course to the way in which Flying Pig simply tried to be the Amazon.com of the South Pacific.

Come on guys -- if you're going to copy someone else's business model then at least choose one that makes sense and makes money. Did you really expect after copying Amazon.com that, through some miracle, your version would burst into profit while Jeff Bezos and his venture continue to burn millions of dollars in capital every month?

It makes me cry that, while so much money keeps getting poured into ventures that lack imagination, insight or even a basic understanding of the Internet as a medium, technology, marketplace and culture, there are hundreds of other brilliant Kiwis with great ideas who can't find a penny of funding.

Let me repeat my own mantra for the benefit of those who have more money than sense:

Don't copy -- innovate. Don't compete in existing markets -- create new markets and own them

All you need to put this into effect is a single good idea -- and this country is loaded with people who have a lot of good ideas. Unfortunately, those people and their ideas seem to be vastly undervalued.

I can say with some certainty that, although the Net has matured significantly over the past two or three years, only a tiny percentage of the business models and strategies that will ultimately succeed in the online world have yet been conceived or implemented. The real road to success lies in coming up with those, as yet undiscovered models before someone else does.

Late Update: This morning's column was written before 4  this story appeared on the IDG site. It would appear that great minds think alike!

The Government Fax-Spams?
What would you think of a seminar that was promoted by fax-spamming?

What would you think if that seminar was one that dealt with the upcoming issue of e-government and included speakers from WINZ, the State Services Commission, Statistics NZ and a bunch of other government departments?

If you're as cynical as I am, you'd probably think "yeah... it figures."

One Aardvark reader reports that he received over 30 copies of a 3-page fax promoting the "Government Online New Zealand" conference, a $1795 two-day chance to listen to these speakers rave on about how the online world will affect your dealings with government.

It appears to me as if 4 the promoters couldn't organise a party in a brewery! And, after their little fax-attack, I for one certainly wouldn't sign up for any of their email lists!

A refreshing contrast to that fiasco is the upcoming 4  e-Commerce Summit being organised for November 1-2 in Auckland.

Having spoken to one of the people behind the scenes of this event, I'm happy that it has the potential to deliver some useful information to those who can afford the $460 registration fee and are looking for some guidance on how they can utilise e-commerce in their business activities.

And -- the organisers of this event understand the importance of not pissing off their prospective attendees!

IDG's Crystal Ball Breaks Again
In the online news game there's incredible pressure to be first with a story and to develop an ability to look ahead and identify upcoming stories that might become a scoop.

Unfortunately IDG's crystal ball seems to have developed a few bugs of late.

Last week they announced that the website for the government-organised e-commerce summit was "up and accepting registrations" -- when it wasn't. After it was brought to their attention in this column they quickly back-tracked and revised their article (but too late guys -- I'd already got a screen capture).

Well -- now they've done it again!

In 4 this story (screenshot here if it's changed), we're told that the new E-Zebra site is already launched.

A visit to the 4 e-Zebra site however tells a different story -- IDG were 10 days early with that story.

But hey -- I'm not criticising, just musing -- I still find the IDG site a "must visit" on my daily circuit of the Net.

I'm Scratching
As it's Labor day in the USA I've really had to scratch around for news headlines. It seems that even the Net-world takes a bit of a siesta when the USA has a holiday.

As always, your feedback is welcomed.

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The Day's Top News
4 = open in new window
New Zealand

4  Hacker sets up flatmates-for-free site
A computer hacker invaded the cyberspace mansion of five Kiwi flatmates taking part in an internet stunt and put their pay-per-view antics on a free site...
NZ Herald

4  High-tech group seeks finance for screening
The high-technology sector has asked the Government for $1 million to set up a private-sector board to screen applications for new business grants...
NZ Herald

4  Lessons learned from missing research deal
New Zealand may have lost out to Australia on a 200-staff Motorola research centre but the electronics giant's interest in such a venture Down Under has helped to end 15 years of purist hands-off economic policy in New Zealand...
NZ Herald

Other

4  Satellites help companies stay safe and secure
As more computer viruses circulate, businesses look for new ways to defeat the pernicious programs...
BBC

4  Fox, WB crack down on Simpsons, Buffy fan sites
Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Bart Simpson are about as disparate as two fictional characters can get, but their fans share a common bond: they can't fully express their ardor for the shows online...
Nando

4  European pot site puts launch on back burner
The launch of iToke, an Internet start-up that plans to deliver marijuana in Amsterdam, is delayed by negative sentiment from some local coffee shop owners and frenzied press requests...
CNet

4  Governments told: 'Hands off internet'
Governments should get out of the way and let the internet revolution roll on says a report by an influential analysis group...
BBC

4  Hold the front page!
Web searching is swiftly turning into a cat-and-mouse - or spider-and-fly - game between the search engines and sites desperate for that all-important first-page listing...
Fairfax

Australia

4  E-Loan staff sacked as News Corp venture stumbles
E-Loan, the Australian online mortgage broking service partly funded by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp, has sacked the bulk of its staff after loan volumes were much lower than anticipated...
AFR

4  LibertyOne close to going broke
The financial problems of former internet high-flyer LibertyOne have worsened, the company revealing yesterday it had only enough cash to last to the end of the year...
AFR

4  NSI vs Melb IT on foreign names
MELBOURNE IT, struggling on the share market after predicting declining domain name sales, will face further pressure due to the decision of Network Solutions to muscle in on its multilingual domain business...
Australian IT

4  Telstra dallies on LookSmart deal
The Telstra Corp board has failed to sign off on the company's $US120m strategic stake in the internet search engine LookSmart, delaying any decision until Telstra directors next convene...
AFR

Other

4  Making a Game of Web Searches
Knowledge may be power, but browsing skills are worth cash on Web Challenge, a new contest being pitched to the networks. Will Netizens give up Web searching to watch it on TV?...
Wired

4  New Philippines virus a low risk
Bug is spreading, but not in U.S., government agency says. Bearing a resemblance to the 'Love' bug, the virus was first detected on Friday and has been infecting some computer users...
ZDNN

4  Workers Say Internet Is a Vital Tool
For many Americans, Internet access is not just a workplace distraction, but a key component of their jobs, a new report says...
Yahoo/AP

4  Labor Unions Turn to Cyberspace
Like their counterparts in business, labor leaders in the United States have increasingly turned to the Internet to find new customers, keep the old ones and sharpen their...
Yahoo/AP


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Copyright © 2000, Bruce Simpson, free republication rights available on request