Started, Then Stopped – Some Recent Start-Up Duds
The Internet. It’s tops.
What is more tops is the way we use it nowadays. It’s almost impossible to separate our online lives from our real ones. When was the last time you told someone you were ‘going onto the Internet’ to do something? We don’t tell people we used electricity last night, or how we paid for the groceries using EFTPOS, and we don’t talk about doing stuff online anymore. We just do it.
And supporting these habits are a growing range of diverse online services and the clever companies that provide them: Internet banking, online bookstores, streaming porn purchases, social networking, search engines for finding porn… the list goes on.
Of course for every successful online business you can be assured there were hundreds, perhaps thousands, of start-up duds. Some of them were actually good concepts, just ahead of their time or victims of poor timing. Many flamed out due to the founders simply hating each other’s guts before they ever turned a buck. And then there were those that were just really crap ideas. Let’s look at some of the more recent efforts, shall we?
Layoffspace.com was going to be a social network for unemployed people. As well as being a job board it offered the unemployed a chance to… well… bitch about it, I guess. The site launched and closed in 2007, which unfortunately was about 18 months too early for what would become the biggest rush of potential new members since 1932. However, the main problem was that being unemployed wasn’t something people really wanted to publicly whinge and moan about. Unless they were Kevin Rudd.
In 2010, Honestly.com offered anyone the chance to anonymously publish professional reviews of someone else’s work performance. And if you were the person being reviewed there was nothing you could do about it. Unfortunately everyone knows what ‘anonymous reviews’ on the Internet mean – you get the shit sledged out of you. While this is absolutely fine on the average crochet enthusiast website, when someone’s career is involved things get legal very quickly. Incredibly there was $1.2m raised from investors, which was largely blown paying legal fees in defamation cases.
A particularly uninspiring idea to tank was Agester.com in 2008. It urged our senior citizens to upload their picture and other old people would then guess their age. While it was basically a front for a dating site for Internet-savvy seniors, it was stupid. No one over 65 looks their age in a photo, and being told you look even older than you actually are is about as sexy as retirement home fluorescent lighting.
Finally, Blippy.com is worthy of special disdain, particularly as it burnt $13m of funding in record time. It combined everything that is wanker-ish about social networking with everything cockhead-ish about someone’s need to publicly broadcast when they buy stuff. Blippy.com let you link your credit card purchases to your Twitter account, and then let the online world watch the action. Best of all, you could provide reviews as well as a picture of you enjoying your new purchase.
Did I mention buying streaming porn? Now there’s an awkward picture