Adam Lashinsky on the State of the Internet
Dan Colarusso on Internet Growth Projections
Katherine Hobson on E-tailers' Push for Profitability
Catherine Valenti on Ailing Internet Funds
Jamie Heller on Using the Net to Track Net Stocks
Tracy Byrnes on the Frenzy Next Time
George Mannes on Self-Hating Dot-Coms
K.C. Swanson on Old Economy Winners
David Gaffen on Measuring the Internet Economy
Ian McDonald on 'Butterfly' Companies
Justin Lahart on Real Net Valuations
Joe Bousquin on Building the Perfect Net Company
A Dan Gross Opinion Piece: Were the Old Guys Right?
TSC Roundtable on Predicting Six-Month Winners
Roland Jones on The Last Days of Daytrading
Eric Gillin on Working for a Dot-Com
The Internet changes everything.
That's what we were told
. Think back one year, when the nation was in the grips of dot-com mania -- turning longstanding titans of U.S. industries into ossified fossils, profit-challenged concept stocks into must-own issues, tech-whiz college dropouts into paper zillionaires and "widows and orphans" investors into rapid-fire day-traders.
Times have changed. And to pick up on the one platitude from the Internet Age that remains dead-on accurate: They change quickly.
Today, simply put, everything about the Internet experience generally and the dot-com phenomenon in particular is in doubt. Traditional "old-line" companies are counting their blessings for not having squandered precious resources on the so-called New Economy. We now identify those companies, by the way, in laudatory tones rather than pejorative ones: They tend to have meaningful revenues, positive cash flows and profits that don't require footnotes to discern their value.
Business-school graduates once again are viewing investment banking, consulting and general management in
concerns as honorable professional endeavors. Indeed, climbing the corporate ladder while "settling" for year-end bonuses and modest stock-option grants looks plenty attractive compared to having accepted meager base salaries in return for now-worthless stock options. For every classmate who made a million bucks, every MBA seems to know 10 who've played musical chairs with failed companies and reaped not a penny in dot-com wealth. And now, finally, even the once-undisputed winners of the Internet Age, the "pick and shovel" makers of Internet infrastructure equipment like
, are beginning to lose their luster -- and market value -- as spending slows in their end markets.
How did we get here and where are we going? These are the questions we'll attempt to answer over the next three days with a comprehensive package on the continuing evolution of the Internet economy. If the phenomenon were dead, we'd just say so and get on with more important issues. But the Internet isn't dead -- even though parts of it may be dying. It's evolving, rapidly. How companies, Old and New Economy, position themselves in the coming months to capitalize on that evolution will speak volumes about who will survive, thrive or disappear.
Among the highlights of the package: San Francisco-based reporter
, who for the past six months has been chronicling the ebbs and flows of so-called business-to-business e-commerce companies, will weigh in on which are the few companies that have mixed the right ingredients to build a successful Internet company.
, who keeps mutual fund investors up to speed on what their fund managers are buying and selling, explains how a handful of Old Economy caterpillars like
have sprouted into New Economy butterflies. Their secret: Exploiting existing assets to serve the needs of the Internet. Enron, for example, has taken its expertise in trading energy products to create a market for trading bandwidth, the new commodity that signifies online capacity for high-volume Internet users.
But like any revolution, the Internet era has been tumultuous. Even as
struggles with never-ending losses, its bricks-and-mortar competitors fare no better on the Web.
recently launched its
Web site -- for the third time.
says that 10% of its in-store purchasers of home appliances researched their buys first on the sears.com Web site, according to customer surveys. But its Sears Online unit refuses to break out sales or costs, referring instead to industry statistics on visits to its Web site, an irrelevant statistic for anyone trying to figure out if Sears' online effort is a success.
This is another example of how the times have changed. A year or two ago investors might have been impressed simply that Sears was giving the Web the ol' college try. Today, as capital-markets maven
explains, all the pie-in-the-sky projections we've been fed over the past few years are suspect. For example, numerous B2B companies quoted industry statistics that the business-to-business economy would hit $1.3 trillion by 2003. That those same companies would see but a tiny sliver of that kitty was easy to overlook when the market was more forgiving. Similarly,
markets-team associate editor
will examine all the goofy valuation metrics of the Internet era with an eye toward explaining just what Internet companies are worth. To preview their conclusions: The long-gone days when companies were valued for the earnings they would generate may well be returning.
Boom times are a perfect setting for shenanigans -- and other ways of making things appear to be better than they are.
entertains us with the sure-fire signs your dot-com company is failing. Business author
muses about whether the stick-in-the-mud fundamental stock analysts who said this stuff was all a hoax might have been right after all.
At the end of the day, the Web won't die because it's such a good tool for doing our jobs. Editor-at-large
writes on Web sites that hold a mirror up to the all the creative deconstruction going on around the Web itself.
suggests how to spot the next bubble -- and profit from it. And our stable of stock-pickers and columnists at
will put their money where their keyboards are with stock picks for the next six months.
Dot-com is dead; long live dot-com! There's still money to be made on the phenomenon -- and plenty to be lost. Our package aims to help you do more of the former and less of the latter.