The day I killed my dot-com

By Jennifer Jeffrey


Letters to the Editor
December 14, 2000 1:23AM (UTC)

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Jennifer Jeffrey asks what happened to the dot-coms. It's simple: They chose to believe that the laws of economics didn't apply to them. They chose to believe that somewhere on their financial reports, between the lines that say "gross revenues," "expenses" and "net revenue," there was another line that read, "And then a miracle occurs!"

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If I choose to disbelieve the laws of physics, I can claim to fly. But my belief won't get me off the ground for more than a moment, and the dot-coms' disbelief in the laws of economics led to a similarly short flight.

-- Atlant G. Schmidt

I sympathize with Jennifer Jeffrey. Really I do.

I understand how difficult it is to realize that it's time to fold a company that you've spent your every waking (and sleeping) moment building. And how agonizing it is to lay off loyal and hard-working employees. However ... having just been laid off from my dot-com, which I had spent the last year and a half giving my all for, my sympathy is somewhat blunted.

I watched the (very) young founders of the company make all the management mistakes -- including not laying off sidelined employees when times got very lean. Also, keeping the truth about how bad the financial situation had become from employees was almost unforgivable. So we got laid off, without a last paycheck, without payout on accumulated vacation days, and, of course, no severance.

All of this just a couple of weeks before Christmas. Jeffrey's blithe "they all went out and immediately got new jobs" assessment seems extremely optimistic. The market is flooded with laid-off dot-commers and the job opportunities are a whole lot slimmer than this time last year (except if you're a programmer -- lucky stiffs!). With no last paycheck, no severance and zero-worth shares in a now-failed company, many of us are barely keeping our head above the rapidly rising waters.

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Good luck in your future endeavors, Ms. Jeffrey.

-- S. Chappell

I, too, weep tears of sadness because I know the pain of that lost house in France, that six-month vacation I won't be booking and knowing I won't be waking up rich beyond my dreams anytime soon. I've been employed by two dot-com failures and I left each none the richer and none the wiser because I'd go back and work for another in a minute.

Sure, I feel more like a seasonal employee, joining the next, fresh start-up every six months or so, than someone who's on the cutting edge of the new economy. But I can't complain -- I was paid well and even overpaid by some standards and I never expected to retire by 30. It was a job.

I am nostalgic for the days when the only working world I knew was that of my father's. In those days employees like my dad only expected a stable job, health benefits and maybe free tickets to the circus so he could show his kids a good time. But then again, my dad bitched about how hard he had it, too.

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-- Maria A. Del Toro

As I read the genuine sadness of those whose dreams have failed through the demise of their dot-coms, I can't help but notice that so many of the dreams expressed were obtainable with or without the riches envisioned. A six-month backpacking trip? Go for it. You already have enough of what you need. A house in the south of France? Millions of southern Frenchmen got theirs without having to invest themselves in something wholly unrelated. Want to get your kids into college? Find a job that gives you time to work with them on their studies.

I hate to find myself old enough to say "In my day," but in my day we went on backpacking trips across Europe, we started farms, we founded Apple and Microsoft. We went where our passions moved us, and didn't defer our adventures until they were safe to pursue. Don't defer yours.

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-- Stephen Dick


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