FACEBOOK: The Ultimate Dot-Com

History will record that Mark Zuckerberg wasn’t the first college student to have the idea of enabling people to set up Web pages and share stuff with their friends. Yesterday, my colleague Silvia Killingsworth wrote about the Winklevoss twins, two Harvard grads who famously accused Zuckerberg of stealing the idea for Facebook while working on their fledgling site Connect U. Before the Winklevii, there were the folks behind MySpace and Friendster. And before them, way back in 1995, there were Todd Krizelman and Stephen Paternot, who launched TheGlobe.com from their dorm rooms at Cornell.

TheGlobe.com allowed people to create their personal space online, upload pictures, and set up what came to be known as blogs. By 1998, it had more than two million members, which was then considered impressive. It also had a business plan: sell advertising. On November 13, 1998, Bear Stearns issued 3.1 million shares in the company at nine dollars each to some of its clients—the lucky ones. When Bear’s traders tried to open the stock for trading, they found it difficult to establish a floor price. As I recalled in my 2002 book, “Dot.Con: The Greatest Story Every Sold” (apologies for the plug):

 Whatever price they indicated—$20, $30, $40, $50—was too low. CNBC reported that the first trade might be $70, but even this proved to be a conservative estimate. After a lengthy delay, the first trade crossed the ticker at $87—almost ten times the issue price. Even for an Internet stock, this was unheard of. Within an hour, the price had risen to $97.

TheGlobe.com’s I.P.O. marked the beginning of the dot-com bubble’s epic stage. By the time the bubble burst, in March and April, 2000, hundreds of online firms had issued stock, among them many clunkers like Pets.com, E-Stamp, and etoys.com (not to be confused with a later company that used the same name), but also many online companies that survived and eventually thrived, such as eBay, Amazon.com, and Priceline.com. The bursting of the bubble discredited the term “dot-com,” which was understandable but, in a way, unfortunate, because the term itself had come to be the expression of an attitude that saw in online communication and online commerce boundless possibilities. Facebook’s I.P.O. represents a return to that mindset. It’s the fulfillment of the dreams of the nineties—and a reminder of their potentially fatal attraction.

While the term “dot-com” disappeared, the idea survived. Before very long, it was rebranded as “Web 2.0”—a term popularized by Tim O’Reilly and John Battelle, who from 2004 onwards organized a series of conferences under this banner. Supposedly, what distinguished Web 2.0 from Web 1.0 was user control, and user collaboration, with the network serving as a “platform,” but that wasn’t really a new idea: Krizelman and Paternot had fastened upon it years earlier, as had the founders of GeoCities and other Web-hosting ventures.

Read more at the New Yorker.

Comments

Polititainment

GoT Author to host Democrat Fundraiser
The red fundraiser? In this case, the appropriate color is probably blue. George R.R. Martin, the author of the popular book series “A Song of Ice and Fire” and the inspiration for HBO’s “Game of Thrones,” will host a fundraiser for Sen. Tom Udall (D- N.M.) in early October. According to Udall’s campaign, the event will […]
Jay Carney's son performs at White House

The former White House press secretary and now CNN political commentator tweeted out a photo of his son's band Twenty20 performing at a White House event Monday evening.

Stewart: Graham has panicked for 13 yrs
Comedian Jon Stewart is taking some time away from going after his favorite Republican war hawk Sen. John McCain and is now going after McCain’s fellow rally crier, Sen. Lindsey Graham. Graham had some strong words over the weekend on the topic of ISIS, saying,  ”This president needs to rise to the occasion before we […]
Actress: I made 'constitutional' stand

Django Unchained actress Daniele Watts said Monday morning that she made a stand for her "constitutional rights" in resisting the LAPD late last week.

Gillibrand Madam Secretary inspiration

After first revealing that CBS' upcoming "Madam Secretary" series was inspired by Hillary Clinton and Benghazi, the show's producers are now saying that Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) was more of the inspiration for the lead role.

 

White House

Joe Biden should never be allowed to support a Redskins name change

Imagine for a moment a tied Senate vote urging the Washington Redskins to change their team name. Into the chamber steps Joe Biden.

Gaffetastic vice-president apologizes for slur

Vice-President Joe Biden apologized Wednesday for his use of an ethnic slur in a speech this week.

Two remarkable stories show why these Vietnam vets earned an exemption to receive the Medal of Honor

Two Vietnam War veterans who were granted an exemption to receive the Medal of Honor were officially recognized Monday, recalling the extraordinary courage of servicemen often obscured by the tumultuous domestic politics of the era.

Obama orders airstrikes in Syria for first time

WASHINGTON (AP) — Opening a new military front in the Middle East, President Barack Obama authorized U.S. airstrikes inside Syria for the first time Wednesday night, along with expanded strikes in Iraq as part of a broad mission to root out the violent Islamic State militants whose reign of terror has spread across both countries.

Golf courses are now rejecting President Obama

A president can no longer just golf like a major champion today.

Congress

Rand Paul: Millennials 'aren't as wedded to party'
Sen. Rand Paul (R – Ky.) seems to have the majority of millennials figured out. The presidential hopeful spoke with The Federalist this week about his foreign policy views and the shift toward libertarian views among millennials. “I think the libertarian influence, the libertarian-ish Republican, the libertarian conservatives in many ways is great for the […]
Democrats turn on Debbie Wasserman Schultz
POLITICO – Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz is in a behind-the-scenes struggle with the White House, congressional Democrats and Washington insiders who have lost confidence in her as both a unifying leader and reliable party spokesperson at a time when they need her most. Long-simmering doubts about her have reached a peak after two […]
'Finally, we're gonna audit the Fed'

The House passed a bill Wednesday afternoon to audit the Federal Reserve, a long-time crusade of former Rep. Ron Paul and libertarians.

No welfare for weed under House bill
WASHINGTON (AP) — The House passed a bill Tuesday night that could make it a little harder for people to use government welfare payments to buy marijuana in states where the drug is legal. Supporters call it the “no welfare for weed” bill. The bill would prevent people from using government-issued welfare debit cards to make purchases […]
Congress tweets the Constitution

For an alternative reading experience this Constitution Day, direct your attention to Darrell Issa's Twitter feed.