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Foolish Human
by Tom Williams
Is fuckedcompany joining the deadpool?

 

OK

I like Pud. I didn’t want to, because it’s not my nature to like people who are famous and hipsterish, but then I discovered he’s only a punk ass kid, so nothing he’s doing has the serious weight of grown up actions.

That’s really the whole point of Fucked Company — it’s just for fun. It’s not a financial pro forma investment tool, it’s not a very productive form of revenge, and nowadays it’s not really that interesting because it may as well just link straight to the Nasdaq.

But there are lessons to be learned from the FC phenomenon. Why did it take the fancy of the New Economy crew? Why did people participate? What did it portend in the long run? What should we take away from what we’ve seen?

The facts that you may or may not already have down.

FC (I say this for expediency, not for fear of saying "fucked" like those chumps at siliconvalley.com) has been around since May 2000 when a 24 year old web designer codenamed Pud started posting the rumblings about dot.coms that are about to flail as they came across his email.

It started out as a game where you get points for predicting fucked companies, but its main appeal quickly headed towards the vicarious folk who like to hear about other people’s fucks. It evolved from fun to money-making as more and more people heard about it — t-shirts, mugs, special sections of rumor, ad nauseum. It even made Yahoo’s and Rolling Stone’s Site of the Year for 2000.

An important note: fuckedcompany is not as "for the people" as it first appears. I understand it to be true that Pud doesn’t include his buddies’ failures, and he got himself a pr agency to talk up the website. But fair enough, it’s his site, and it you want, you’re more than free to blow your $35 and get www.pudsbuddiesfuckedcompanies.com if you want.

Now on to the more interesting, if less factual, speculation…

Why did we care about FC?

The most interesting aspect to FC is the thought that everyone loved reading about others’ failures while confidently basking in the glow of their own success. "Ha ha, that guy’s a jack ass," you said. "What a fucking idiot to think that they could make that work," you intoned, as you got ready for your own investor meeting to discuss your fourth round of funding.

It’s classic human nature, the "it won’t happen to me" mentality that has funded a thousand ventures into dumb ideas. We want to see other people fail where we ourselves tread. FC gave a sense of superiority to those who weren’t included, just like the Darwin Awards did in 1998 and the Bush Senior administration before that.

It’s not so funny now though because the other guy is laughing at me. Of course, maybe that’s just from my perspective; equally of course, maybe it’s your perspective four months from now.

 

Who cared about Fuckedcompany?

Primarily people who needed some justification to say fuck at the office. The knowing grin of a man who feels he’s pushing the envelope. Stupid wankers.

 

Was FC more than dumb ass entertainment?

No.

Sure, right now, Pud is trying to sell you access to the restricted files where you can see the real dirt. "You wouldn’t believe what’s in here," says the sales pitch.

Again, this is exactly the point. I don’t believe what’s in there. It’s not good information. I pity the foo’ who based their financial portfolio on anything they saw in FC. It’s really just a spot for dumb ass employees to post their uninformed rants.

Who’s the chump? The guy who raises $30 million, gets a $100,000 cash bonus and then watches his company tank from a beach in France, or the dumb ass who works night and day for $35K, mortgages a nice house based on worthless stock options, then whines to Pud because he’s working for a company that was never viable in the first place? He’d be in the same place if the whole New Economy fantasy had never happened in the first place (except for the mortgage and no girlfriend).

Don’t trust the word of the posters, because they really don’t know shit.

Jesse Simons, an FC Hall of Famer for his leading role at Nonstopnet, checked out his dossier at FC when his company went under earlier this year. "There was no data," he said. "It was just venting for immature employees. They could have had something productive there, like a dialogue about where our strategy went wrong or why the funding wasn’t right, instead it was just personal attacks."

If you need further evidence, here’s a comment on the rumor that Juno is laying off a bunch of people next week.

------------
RealOrFake

Apr 23 2001 09:37PM EST

You’d be surprised:

http://app2.playboy.com/sex/feature/salsgals/quiz.htmx
-----------

Very useful, highly informed commentary yes, but not something I’d give any weight to when judging whether or not to invest in the company, or even to work there.

Benchmark

As a test, I sent in a FC alert on Anvil. I said "The Ed in Chief Kent Lewis was fired for thrashing all the computers with a walking stick," and that "Kent got a tax-free BMW while all us staffers were stiffed for our last month’s pay." We’ll have to see how far it makes it along. I’m too mean to pay the $75 monthly rumor fee, and I couldn’t find a pirated password, so someone will have to let me know.

Where does Pud go from here?

Interest has waned for FC. We all know the New Economy was just a large exercise in pr; we all know that 85% of new businesses fail in the first 4 years; we don’t care that some company we’ve never heard of before is laying off 45% of its staff, which is actually only 15 guys who we also don’t know or care about, except that their tastefully decorated office space is now available at cut price rates.

No. Instead of continuing with Fuckedcompany, Pud needs to exercise his skills at register.com. With a penchant for catchy names with the word "fuck" in them and a mailing list of thousands of IT managers who control their own firewall settings, he has a career path most only dream of. Mark my words, next time you see Pud’s name it will be in the one truly successful Web industry- good old-fashioned porn.

 

The Legacy

Pud started the decline of the media snake eating its own tale. We’re just about 40% digested today, with everyone on the "we’re doomed" bandwagon. Perhaps we can learn to stick to the facts, keep success and failure in perspective, and move on to new ideas, maybe even ones where people don’t expect something for nothing.

Yet the spirit of the New Economy lives. As a true entrepreneur and dot.com master, Jesse Simons took advantage of the situation. His resume now reads "Member of the Hall of Fame in Yahoo Life’s Site of the Year 2000."

 
 
Tom Williams is a debater, squasher, drinker, lover, inventor and egalitarian.