Back-to-school time always puts me in a reflective mood.
Ah kindergarten! The time: 1967. The place: the suburbs of Philadelphia. My teacher, Mrs. Sheppard, watched closely over the fold as we romped on the playground, tested the durability of our toys, and gobbled down cookies and milk.
Not a bad deal.
Fast forward to just a few years ago, when many high-tech ventures started living the dotcom dream along America's coastlines, and you'll see some similarities.
Watched over by Mr. Deep Pockets (Read: wealthy investors), dotcommers played in cyberspace, pushed the limits of their high-tech toys, and the pizza-delivery business boomed.
Well, this version of kindergarten appears to be over for most dotcoms, and Mr. Deep Pockets says they need to make the grade, or drop-out.
A number have already gone kaput. One Web site (www.dotcomfailures.com) lists more than 30 Internet companies that have bit the dust this year. Most were retailers, selling such items as pet supplies, hardware, toys, and clothing.
Another troubling trend: Some dotcoms including Pets.com, e-stamp.com, and Fogdog, have seen their share values drop to about a dollar and risk being removed from the Nasdaq exchange. Delisting translates into less visibility, giving these companies almost no shot at recovery.
So what to do?
The answer for many, according to Laurent Belsie's lead story, is to establish a presence in areas other than cyberspace.
In other words, welcome to the real world. The advent of "clicks and bricks" is upon us. Read on.
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