Eclipse of an urban dot-com dream

Urban Box Office's editor in chief responds

By Salon Staff
September 20, 2000 11:50PM (UTC)
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Read the story

I write as an occasional contributor to Salon and current editor in chief of Urban Box Office. I'm extremely disappointed that you would run a story by a disgruntled former employee with absolutely no fact checking. I've always viewed Salon as a model of editorial quality for my own Web efforts. The piece is full of errors and totally misrepresents where we stand today. We hope you will consider withdrawing the story, since it is so completely inaccurate.


  • We just had our launch party last night at Ellis Island, attended by more than 1,000 people. We have received a raft of positive media for our approach to the urban market.

  • We have raised more than $33 million, not the $24 million the writer claims.

  • We completed a third round of $18 million in the midst of the dot-com meltdown last April -- a sign that the urban market is indeed alive and well.

  • We are in the midst of an even larger fourth round of fund-raising and expect it will fully fund our efforts.

  • Like other startups, we've had our problems with fast growth -- and we have had occasional adjustments -- but we've never shrunk to 150 people. In fact, our current head count is around 350.

  • Our total audience (unique viewers) has grown steadily since our first site launched back in February.

    As I said earlier, I just don't understand why a story like this would not raise red flags among your editors. We are a real business in a very competitive market. We do make mistakes and -- like everyone else in the dot-com world -- we try to learn as fast as we can. A single telephone call would have shown how completely off-base Sheftel-Gomes was in her assessment. I can understand her disappointment at being laid off. I can't understand your willingness to abandon the basics of responsible journalism.

    -- Joel Dreyfuss
    Editor in chief, Urban Box Office Network

    Editor's note: Salon has made corrections and revisions to the article on Urban Box Office since it originally appeared. Details are on our Corrections page.

    As another former UBO'er please relay my gratitude to Nasoan Sheftel-Gomes for finally telling the real story of those of us who were just too fed up to even continue that elusive trek to the mountaintop.

    We were all led to believe that we had unlimited financial and emotional support from those who were in charge, but George Jackson's death heralded the death of UBO and all it was supposed to stand for.

    As a relatively high-ranking employee, I was privileged to information such as the fact that UBO never even tried to define what they considered to be "urban." So after having my company e-mail hacked, my partner fired, and being refused support of any kind, I couldn't even get a straight answer as to if I still had a job after they decided not to launch my site. All in all, UBO was ill-conceived, poorly managed and ultimately the first housing project in the Internet ghetto.

    -- Ntianu Eastmond

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