Ed Driscoll

PICKING UP THE PIECES OF

PICKING UP THE PIECES OF THE GO-GO ’90s: Glenn Reynolds looks at where the money was spent at the now-defunct MP3.com–“Check out the massage table and the Hummer!”–but it wasn’t just high-flyers like MP3.com that spent on crazy stuff like that.

Back in June of 2002, I wrote about an auction where the assets of a failed Silicon Valley dot.com start-up were sold off. My wife bid on and won a couple of PCs and some furniture for her law practice, but there was also this:

a multi-person Jacuzzi, 20 ab-rollers (the kind sold on late-night TV infommercials), a ping pong table, a BMX mountain bike(??!!), multiple sets of steak knives, numerous high-end pieces of Herman Miller furniture and God-knows what else.

As I said at the time:

I always thought a business was lean and mean and hungry until it went public, or at least was self-sufficient. No wonder so many dot.coms tanked in the ’90s: you don’t start living large until you’ve had some success. (Pick up the DVD of Startup.com to see this kind of fuzzy-headed business thinking in action. Of course, those guys were at least smart enough to get a fairly successful documentary out of their tanked business.)

I would think that most of the companies that have survived the dot.com crash eschewed this sort of thinking. Or else have been very, very lucky.

The 1980s was supposed to be the decade of greed. At the beginning of the 1990s, magazines like Time said we’d spend the 1990s atoning for our sins and excesses. So much for that bit of prediction.