Whatever happened to some of those old dotcom startups I worked on early in my career?
I saw an article on the BBC website last week that asked what had happened to the campaign websites of Conservative leadership candidates since David Cameron took on the post. It made me think once again of all those sites I worked on in my early career. Sometimes one will pop into my head and I’ll wonder what became of it. This is especially true of the start-up .coms I helped build four or five years ago – so today, in the shadow of a growing gascloud of Web 2.0 efforts, let’s take a trip down Memory Lane …
What was it? Sitesforkidz was a space for subscribing children to “build” their own themed websites (there were different styles for different age groups).
What could you do with it? Within their site, the child could create content pages and choose from about 100 online games. There was also a dubious mandatory page that featured lots of, er, sponsored links.
What’s the verdict? Given the success of online tribal activities such as blogging and MySpace.com, Sitesforkidz was way ahead of its time.
What happened next? The service was never quite finished. Despite high expectations and a great write-up in the Dumbarton and Vale of Leven Reporter, like the proverbial emu, the service just didn’t take off. Then it died out like a dodo.
Where is it now? Unbelievably, most of the original site complete with Flash intro, is still there today. For the ultimate in bad design (for which I hasten to add I was almost totally responsible), visit Sitesforkidz.
What was it? An online showroom for Bletchley’s finest, not to mention only, purveyor of tiles. What could you do with it? Browse a range of tiles, mainly. What happened next? The company sold a few tiles. Then it sold a few more. Then some other agency took over the site. Where is it now? Apart from an exciting redesign, it has survived more or less intact in its original format at bletchleytiles.com.
the Internet Venture Group (tIVG)
What was it? tIVG was a startup for startups. The company invested in the crackpot ideas of would-be internet tycoons, organised development and initiated the marketing process.
What could you do with it? The tIVG website was pure Flash brochureware. It featured a tasteful colour scheme, liberal use of the classic Baker Signet typeface and impressively unintuitive navigation (again by mine own fair hands).
What happened next? Nothing.
Where is it now? The tIVG website still exists today. Not doing much, but it’s still there alright! Take a look at tIVG.
What was it? The website of one of the millions of corporate events companies in a feeding frenzy for ‘training budgets’ thinly disguised as tax write-offs. Its owner was holding down a job as a supply teacher whilst awaiting his entry pass to the dotcom overnight hall of fame. His anxiety at the success of the likes of Red Letter Days was made him one of the most demanding and impatient people you could ever meet. Which is presumably why it took more than nine months to finish the site. And we deemed it finished, not him.
What could you do with it? It was possible to browse and book any event, from skydiving to skiing, from colonics for your successful sales team to corporate hospitality at Crufts.
What happened next? The supply teacher client was obsessed with search engine rankings and even claimed once that Channel 4 had asked him to organise some teambuilding games for the bored housemates of Big Brother. Needless to say, nothing came of it, or the business.
Where is it now? Tombstoned. The URL points to the dreaded search page graveyard of dead domains: 1stencounters.com.