The Year That Wasn't

Top 10 Dot-Com Disappointments

1. A few months ago, founder Andrew Busey was complaining about how difficult it was being nouveau riche. None of his friends could afford to hang out with the master of online furniture, Busey complained to Texas Monthly, because he was worth millions and they weren't. On Dec. 13,'s assets, including all its office furniture, were auctioned off to help pay its creditors. Busey should have a few more friends now.

2. Take one well-known former surgeon general, throw in a few million bucks and a shaky idea, and you have a prescription for disaster. The Web site is still up and operating, but how long will it be before the Doctor's Assets assets go on the auction block. And to think that once "He was the very model of a modern surgeon general."

3. After its stock plunged to just 1% of its former value, the five-year-old gardening e-tailer decided to cut its losses in November, shutting down operations and selling its assets to pay off millions in operating losses.

4. Software supplier and PCOrder's acquisition by its former parent company, Trilogy, is temporarily on hold pending a decision on a class-action lawsuit filed against the company. But employees and officers of the spinoff, which struck out on its own four years ago, can't be happy to be moving back home after all these years on their own.

5. One Trilogy spinoff that wasn't so lucky was, which shut down this year when Trilogy realized that buying failing car dealerships and converting them into "e-tailers" wasn't "a viable path to profitability." The lesson cost Trilogy $100 million.

6. NotHarvard became Not-NotHarvard when the real Harvard sued the fledgling online education site to protect the Ivy League school's trademark on its name. Now NotHarvard is known by the less-euphonious name, a change some analysts say will toll the death knell for a dot-com whose main selling point was its easy-to-remember URL. Have they considered NotYale?

7. After laying off about a third of its employees, the Austin-born comparison buying and Usenet service company got to work carving up its remaining assets, selling off its comparison shopping portal to eBay subsidiary, and putting its Usenet discussion service up on the auction block.

8. Despite an unbeatable Web address and a simple principle -- to be the clearinghouse for e-commerce companies -- faltered and finally failed in November. Eco Associates, which formed in Austin this year to take over ailing start-ups, gave the e-tailer a $5.8 million infusion and fired its CEO and half its 40-person staff.

9. After an auspicious launch in early 2000, the Whole Foods spinoff -- optimistically billed as a one-stop online "lifestyle portal" for health-conscious consumers -- performed disappointingly throughout 2000, losing millions for the company and sending its stock flying south. WholePeople went belly-up in June, just three months after going live.

10. Netpliance Inc. Austin-based Netpliance couldn't have existed without the dot-com explosion, but the dot-com implosion may have sealed its fate. The company failed to wow consumers with its i-opener Internet device, which sold for the paltry price of $100. Netpliance was left hundreds of millions of dollars in debt by the end of the year, when it decided to "restructure" by laying off a third of its work force.

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