Tuesday, December 30, 2003

“Startup.com”: a review

This early-2001 doco/reality hybrid* finally made it on to Australian television last night. If you didn’t catch it, I’d highly recommend you rent it out on video (I’m not in the DVD league myself, but don’t you guys buy all the stuff you watch? Anyway, don’t buy this one; it’s not disposable enough – if you get what I mean – to sit on your bookshelf for years, right next to your Phil Collins Concert Collection.)

Like this reviewer I have to say that, as an ex-dotcommer myself, I may just be getting a little too enthusiastic about the show’s broader appeal.

My little dotcom was my little dotcom, BTW – Australian-based, but serving a niche in the US airline industry. In hindsight, it went belly-up on 11 September 2001. Unfortunately, I sank ten grand into it on the morning of 12 September 2001, having just heard the news, but experiencing a total disconnect between my business sense and my emotional shock. Thanks, you terrorist fuckwits.

More generally, September 11 marked the true end of the dotcom dream/fiasco (take your pick). The stock market had crashed almost eighteen months previously, but a lot of GenXers, including myself, still had hope that what they were working on would somehow lead to their (much-delayed) day in the sun. It was only the unhinged career aspirations of a different bunch of GenXers, taking precedence over all else on September 11, that forced the question and killed the hope – who is/was really behind it all?

There is now little doubt that GenXers were taken for a big ride during the dotcom years. Of course the trillion dollars of cash which was dissipated came mainly from older, and passive investors. To which I say – if you didn’t get your hands dirty (= your career and personal life fucked) in the dotcom years, you haven’t even made a loss, as far as I’m concerned.

Who to blame? Apart from the usual dodgy money-men, a small subsection of GenX can also be made to carry the can: the MBAs. A cheap shot perhaps, but being found in the September 2001 (= a few weeks pre September 11) issue of “Fast Company”, also a spookily prescient one.

Finally, the good old ABC didn’t even see fit to run an updated “Where are they now”, despite premiering such an ancient piece of non-fiction last night. If you’re interested, this is as up-to-date as I could find.

* It is not accurate to call it merely a “doco” – as with the TV show “Big Brother”, “Startup.com” relied on casting for conflict, pervasive camera saturation, and a deep complicity between subject and producer (which explains why so few “Big Brother” subjects walk out, and why the two feature subjects of “Startup.com” did not pull the plug when the film’s production ceased to have any possible positive PR value).

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