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Web valleyofthegeeks.com

Dot Com Survivor.com

Zack Urlocker
Thursday, December 20, 2001

Dotcom Survivor.comSanta Clara, CA. How do you get Joe 486-pack to care about the rise and fall of Dot Com companies? Leading Internet impresario Skip Towne has created a new streaming Internet media portal with a twist. Dot Com Survivor.com combines the latest media fad (reality television) with the latest financial fad (dot com bankruptcy) and taken it to the next level. "I wanted to add a dose of so-called reality to so-called dot com companies," Towne said. "So much of how Internet companies are run reads like a script from 'Leave it to Beavis and Butthead'", he said. "I wanted to do something bold. Something new. Something borrowed. Something blue. Something profitable but not clearly illegal."

Dot Com: Hype or Fiction?

Skip's plans call to sequester a dozen Internet CEOs and industry luminaries for the weekly show. It will take place in an isolated Silicon Valley tilt-up with no contact to the outside world but a single 2800 baud Compuserve account accessed on an old Compaq 386. No cell phones, no pagers, no Palm organizers. And nothing but decaf coffee. "They won't be able to trot over to Il Fornaio every time they feel like having a press meeting," he said.

Instead of having up-to-the-minute stock quotes to measure their decisions, we'll report stock prices based on weather indicators from more than a dozen major metropolitan areas. "Let's see how well Amazon.com is managed when Jeff Bezos sees daily stock price swings of 20 or 30 degrees," Skip crowed.

Ten Little IPOs?

The toughest part, getting the CEOs to participate, has actually been one of the easiest items. "We sent out a notice that there was a new building in Santa Clara with 100,000 square feet of office space," he said. "They came to us. When they signed their NDA they signed over rights to stay on site for 26 weeks. No one ever reads these things," he said. "But there are some complications. For one thing, its better if their company is still in business, at least for a few more weeks," he said. "I mean, what kind of a show would it be if there were twelve guys running online pet food stores one dropping off each week? I think Agatha Christie did that one already."

So far, participants include Jeffrey Bezos from Amazon.com, Meg Whitman from eBay, Peter Neupert from Drugstore.com, Roger McNamee from Integral Partners, William Shatner from Priceline, Bill Gross from IdeaLabs, those two guys from Yahoo, a couple of Eunuchs from Red Hat and the Pets.com sock puppet.

There could also be the possibility of new business models that come out of the show. "Think about the possibilities, " Town said. "Online reverse auctions for pet transplants... Advertising supported pets... Real time wireless open source dog food... This puts some real force to the question: Will the dogs eat the dog food? I'm betting that before we get to the end of the first season these guys will be eating from the bowl and licking the can."

"And we'll throw in a few random elements to keep it exciting. Dr. Koop will have a guest spot. The old guy's 82 but we’ll have Katrina Garnett walk around in that slinky black dress and see if that doesn't revive his sagging share price, if you know what I mean. We could see more than a few mergers get consummated in this show. Without their cell phones and pagers what the hell else is there to do in Silicon Valley?"

Vote Early and Vote Often

Every week, viewers on the Internet will vote for one person to be ejected from the show. Or if their business folds, then they either get acquired by one of the survivors and become their love slave or they're sent out for pizza. "We're also considering a spin-off show, Bankruptcy.com. But Frankly, we're not really sure Joe 486-pack is going to be interested in that."

Another show Skip is working on is "My Three CEOs" which will feature Larry Ellison, Bill Gates and Scott McNealy in the roles of Chip, Ernie and Rob. Judge Penfield Jackson will play the role of Uncle Charlie. "He always struck me as a bit of a stickler," Skip added. "And what's with that apron thing?"

About the author
Zack Urlocker is a pseudonym for a Silicon Valley software executive located in, ah, Silicon Valley. He has published more than 100 articles on business and technology in magazines which coincidentally have all gone out of business. He is currently working on his book "Valley of the Geeks."

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