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The Internet Businesses The Almighty Buck

Last Great Internet Bubble Auction 432

Posted by timothy
from the aerons-are-comfy dept.
jlouderb writes "At least that's what they are calling it. Cowan Alexander is getting ready to auction off the assets of MP3.com (now owned by CNet) on March 10th and 11th. The items up for sale include lots of those dumb Herman Miller Aeron chairs that were so popular, along with servers and notebooks that are probably hopelessly out of date. The best part, though -- a 1997 yellow hummer and a 1994 "Fat Boy" Harley. Plus, they've got pictures!"
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Last Great Internet Bubble Auction

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  • by Joceyln Parfitt (756037) on Wednesday February 25, 2004 @03:44PM (#8389835)
    Too bad they aren't selling the mp3 database itself! All those songs, lost.. there should be a law or something.

    Although that Axis Systems (now part of Verisity Design) machine [cowanalexander.com] looks pretty nice. Hm, $1M initial price.. I wonder for how much it'll go now. We could use one at work for various things.
    • by glen604 (750214) on Wednesday February 25, 2004 @03:48PM (#8389875)
      well, since they are selling the servers, maybe some enterprising person could do some data recovery on them and bring some of it back?

      i suppose this would be of questionable legality, but say you got permission from the original music creators- then what?
      • by Shakrai (717556) * on Wednesday February 25, 2004 @04:07PM (#8390103) Journal
        i suppose this would be of questionable legality, but say you got permission from the original music creators- then what?

        Would this even be illegal? If I sell you my old paper journal that I wrote in with ball-point pen (after ripping out the pages I've used) and neglect to rip out the first few blank pages and you color them in with a pencil and recover my private thoughts is that your fault or mine?

        Likewise, unless you sign some sort of "I won't try to recover data from this device" agreement, how would it be illegal? Even then it would be civil -- not criminal.

      • Well, since mp3.com never paid my band money they owe us, I say you have my permission to rip us off too. Not that anyone cared -- they're on the site for free -- but since mp3 said they owed us money, the weasels should've paid it.
      • If you read the Terms and Conditions [cowanalexander.com] on the Cowan Alexander website, you'll see a section where it says:
        • The sale of computer hardware does not include any software programs or any data that may exist in such computer hardware. Purchaser agrees and warrants that any software accompanying the property that is the subject of this bill of sale will be removed by the purchaser and destroyed, including, without limitation, the removal and destruction of any software or intellectual property. Purchaser shall
    • why should they.. they can like.. umm... sell it as elevator muzak?

      see earlier slashdot articles on it.
    • They're hardly lost ... they're about to become everyone's new favorite Elevator Muzak. [slashdot.org]
    • by Shakrai (717556) *
      Too bad they aren't selling the mp3 database itself! All those songs, lost.. there should be a law or something.

      Are they actually gone forever? Are the new owners going to delete the database? I know when my agency acquires another company I convert all of their data to be compatible with our system -- but I don't destroy or delete the original data. Even if we no longer need it.

      DVD-Rs/tapes and hard drive space is cheap. Why would you delete anything?

      Maybe we'll see it reappear a few years from now.

    • Don't you think the folks who submitted songs kept copies for themselves? I did.
    • by CKW (409971)
      > All those songs, lost

      They are not "lost".

      a) Thousands of people have hundreds if not thousands of copies (heck I downloaded 600 MB of songs from them the day before they turned it off, that's 0.5 percent of everything they have right there),

      b) The original artists still have their own copies and can go on to do what they want with them, case in point - G.O.T.E. [guardiansoftheearth.com] (at one point a couple of these songs broke the top 10 on the Trance chart on mp3.com).
  • Those Dumb Chairs (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ackthpt (218170) * on Wednesday February 25, 2004 @03:44PM (#8389838) Homepage Journal
    Internet Bubble

    It seemed to me that MP3 went due to the lawsuits and harrassment from RIAA, not because they had a particularly flawed business model (aside from the music sharing thing), though a Hummer, Harley, Pool table and other junk does suggest an overeagerness to burn through capital.

    The items up for sale include lots of those dumb Herman Miller Aeron chairs

    I'd still like to get one of those, but with the price of shipping and gas being what it is, I'm better off looking for one around where I live. I could certainly use a new laptop, but there's piles of those around for cheep.

    I've tried the Aeron chair out and it seemed like a decent chair, are they not all they appear?

    I had one of those swedish (or whatever they were) chairs you kneel in and found my upper back became very sore, so that didn't last.

    • Re:Those Dumb Chairs (Score:5, Interesting)

      by ThrasherTT (87841) <thrasher@@@deathmatch...net> on Wednesday February 25, 2004 @03:51PM (#8389913) Homepage Journal
      Aerons are quite nice, especially if you get the "fully featured" ones. I used one for about a year at one job, and now even 4 years later, I still long for an Aeron. It's not like they're going to massage you while you sit there, but they are quite comfortable, and since the "fabric" has lots of holes in it, they keep you cooler than a standard chair does.
      • by raygundan (16760) on Wednesday February 25, 2004 @04:00PM (#8390019) Homepage
        I got one the way everybody else who has one at home did-- I waited for an auction, and bought one for 1/4 price. Check ebay, too.

        Well worth it-- but you *have* to spend the time to adjust it to make it work for you. They don't feel much different when you're just sitting in it-- you notice the difference at the end of the day when you're not sore from sitting in a chair. But everybody's different, and I'm sure as many people dislike them as like them, even after adjustment and extended use.
        • That's not how i got one ... I just waited for the next round of layoffs, and took one from the corner office.
          • by raygundan (16760) on Wednesday February 25, 2004 @06:11PM (#8391585) Homepage
            I knew it was coming, and just kept putting the theft off. I wish now I hadn't procrastinated so much on stealing the chair-- but when the day came and they kicked us all out and changed the codes, it was too late. I know a couple of them disappeared, and I even had a no-security-cameras route picked out that made use of the fact that our roof door was unlocked and that it lined up with the fourth floor of the adjacent parking garage. There was a 6' chainlink fence in the way, but i'm sure I could have climbed it and pulled the chair over with me. If only I had gotten around to it. *sigh*

            So (much like the later simpsons episode) I made off with as much ethernet wire as I could.

            One well-prepared bastard had the foresight to lock the super-expensive pro video camera in a filing cabinet and mark it with a distinctive scratch. He bought a lot of 25 beat-up file cabinets later at the auction for about $100, pried the drawer open, and took the camera home after selling the other cabinets for a few bucks to one of the furniture dealers.
      • by mbadolato (105588) on Wednesday February 25, 2004 @04:03PM (#8390053)
        and since the "fabric" has lots of holes in it, they keep you cooler than a standard chair does.

        They also dissipate farts quite nicely! What fun are they if you can't share them with your coworkers ? :)
    • are they not all they appear?

      i used one for 3 or 4 years and it was very comfy indeed. i think the rap that they sometimes get has to do with the idea of paying so much for a chair or possibly envy on the part of commentators who had the misfortune to work for companies with more utilitarian views of office furniture.
    • They are nice, not sure they are worth the price though.

      Just a tip, if you get one, don't keep your wallet in your back pocket when you are sitting in it. The mesh that they use is like a cheese grater and you will wear holes in your pants failry quickly.

      Maybe it's just me though, I tend to fidget a bit. Now where is my coffee cup??
    • Re:Those Dumb Chairs (Score:5, Interesting)

      by kfg (145172) on Wednesday February 25, 2004 @04:07PM (#8390111)
      The kneeling chairs take a bit of getting used to. You have to adjust your position to the desk a bit, they aren't just a "drop in" replacement for a standard chair.

      They also take a bit of time to build up the necessary muscular structure. People who sit in standard chairs have woefully underdeveloped trunk muscles, since the chair is explicitly designed to use as few muscles as possible, as seldom as possible.

      It becomes a feedback cycle. The more you use a standard chair, the more you need one.

      If you're willing to adapt your desk to the chair, rather than the other way around, a simple and common Japanese meditation bench will replace the sort of kneeling chair you are talking about. The trick for comfort with these is to place the bench on a zabuton, not directly on a hard floor.

      What I like to use though is a simple platform, about 30"x36" on which one can sit crosslegged, move around, change postion constantly, etc. These can be built at normal chair hight for use with a standard desk.

      Once you get used to these and build up a certain amount of supporting musculature you'll be loath to every go back to a standard chair. No matter how "ergonomic" a chair is it just isn't designed to hold a person in a position for which human body was designed. The old Greek and Roman benches on which one relined were far more suitable for human use.

      Good luck getting one into your office though.

      KFG
  • Heh. (Score:5, Funny)

    by SandSpider (60727) on Wednesday February 25, 2004 @03:45PM (#8389845) Homepage Journal
    The items up for sale include lots of those dumb Herman Miller Aeron chairs that were so popular

    Very clever, trying to convince everyone not to bid on the Aeron chairs in order to keep the costs down.

    =Brian
    • Also trying to keep the price of the laptops and workstations down.

      "... hopelessly out of date ..."

      But all that junk that they had is amazing! Why would you need an arcade? Why have a Hummer? Pool tables, etc. Why?

      If the people who were doing the purchasing had actually made the money themselves, they wouldn't have been spending it like water.

    • Re:Heh. (Score:3, Funny)

      by uberdave (526529)
      Yeah. No mention about how the shoddy hummer has no passenger room, that it's rusting, and gets poor mileage. Clearly he is hoping to score the chairs while everyone is focussed on a cheezy yuppie-mobile that no one in their right mind would bid on, if they looked past the glitzy exterior. In fact, I suggest that everyone just forget the hummer and bid on the chairs.
  • by koreth (409849) * on Wednesday February 25, 2004 @03:47PM (#8389870)
    The prices might have been ridiculously high, but those Aeron chairs are pretty comfortable. I got one as a gift way back when they first came out, before they were hot items -- benefits of having relatives in the interior design biz -- and I still use it every day. I can stay comfortably seated for marathon coding or gaming sessions with no backache or sore muscles afterwards, which isn't true of most other chairs I've had over the years. (Yes, I do take breaks ordinarily, but on occasion I'll be deep into something and not notice how much time has gone by, a feeling I'm sure is familiar to many Slashdotters.)

    So by all means knock the fad surrounding it, but it's pretty silly to knock a perfectly good piece of furniture just because it became fashionable for a brief time.

  • by bc90021 (43730) * <<ten.12009cb> <ta> <12009cb>> on Wednesday February 25, 2004 @03:47PM (#8389871) Homepage
    Who the hell is "Pootie" [cowanalexander.com]?

    What the hell is This Thing [cowanalexander.com]?

    Does all This Stuff [cowanalexander.com] come with the hat and the giant Pez?

    Inquiring minds want to know!

    Oh, and dibs on the Rocket Ship [cowanalexander.com]. ;)
  • Extra stuff (Score:3, Interesting)

    by savagedome (742194) on Wednesday February 25, 2004 @03:48PM (#8389879)
    servers and notebooks that are probably hopelessly out of date

    But if these machines have hard drivers still hooked up, then there might be lots of interesting stuff lying around on those (maybe mp3s too!)
    • Re:Extra stuff (Score:3, Interesting)

      by MP3Chuck (652277)
      "maybe mp3s too!"

      I wouldn't be suprised ... it's my understanding that they didn't delete them. In fact people who had streaming links in their playlist reported that they were working for some time after the site officially shut down.

      Though as much personal information they had, between artists and listeners, I hope they at least gave the HDD's a once-over formatting.
    • But if these machines have hard drivers still hooked up, then there might be lots of interesting stuff lying around on those (maybe mp3s too!)

      Well, since professional IT people clean hard drives before they give them away...uh, no. Do you seriously think they're that stupid?

      They may not be able to focus a camera to save their lives(it's so bad, you'd almost think it was intentional), but I strongly suspect every drive has been completely(for all practical purposes) wiped clean, and I mean more than jus

  • Video games... (Score:3, Informative)

    by iiioxx (610652) <iiioxx@gmail.com> on Wednesday February 25, 2004 @03:49PM (#8389892)
    According to the photos, auction items also include a few full-size arcade cabinets (no big surprise, they're pretty much a dot-com staple).
    • Re:Video games... (Score:2, Interesting)

      by stratjakt (596332)
      More than a few, they had a 10,000 sq foot arcade full of pool tables, foosball and arcade cabinets.

      I'd proably bid on a couple of the machines, but crating and shipping to the east coast would cost more than they're worth.
    • Yeah but Galaga & Ms. Pacman? Sheesh! And I thought I was hard up for entertainment... I appreciate the classics as much as the next fellow, but come on... A coporation might stand out with a Tempest machine, but I think if I were interviewing with a firm and I saw Galaga & Ms. Pacman, I'd like to think that the handwriting was on the wall...
      • by iiioxx (610652) <iiioxx@gmail.com> on Wednesday February 25, 2004 @04:17PM (#8390215)
        A coporation might stand out with a Tempest machine, but I think if I were interviewing with a firm and I saw Galaga & Ms. Pacman, I'd like to think that the handwriting was on the wall...

        Frankly, if you interview for a position with a company and they show you *any* video games (or other dot-com trappings such as a "coffee bar") and tout them as employee benefits, I think it should serve as a red flag. Those kind of amenities are there for one reason: to convince employees to work for a company that they would normally run the hell away from. It's almost always compensation for some other business shortcomings (i.e. excruciatingly long hours, zero job security, a paper-thin business model, etc).

        "I work 80 hour weeks, no overtime, the phones went out for 4 hours yesterday because we didn't pay the bill... but we've got free video games and lattes in the break room, and my boss is so cool, he drives a Hummer. This place is great!"

        You know what? Just give me a boring old cube, a desk, a decent computer, and a steady paycheck with a company where I don't lie awake at night wondering if the doors will be open when I get there tomorrow. Oh, and some old curmudgeon of a boss who's been in business for 20 years and actually knows how to run a company.

        • I tried that. (Score:3, Insightful)

          by BoomerSooner (308737)
          Unfortunately they [arthurandersen.com] died as well. At least I didn't bother staying until I had an opportunity to move out instead of up. It was a great first job on my resume until the fiasco, luckily for me I departed a few years before the shit hit the fan.

          Working for myself is excellent. My boss isn't bad, the pay is good, the hours are a bit much but that is my choosing, and the only person I have to rely on for security is myself!

        • Just give me a boring old cube, a desk, a decent computer, and a steady paycheck with a company where I don't lie awake at night wondering if the doors will be open when I get there tomorrow. Oh, and some old curmudgeon of a boss who's been in business for 20 years and actually knows how to run a company.

          I might recommend that you try working for the government. The non-shooting parts are pretty much like all you describe, besides the "competent manager" bit, but you can't have everything.
  • Aeron Chairs... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bc90021 (43730) * <<ten.12009cb> <ta> <12009cb>> on Wednesday February 25, 2004 @03:50PM (#8389901) Homepage
    Yeah, sure, these chairs [cowanalexander.com] came to symbolise the greed of the Dotom Bubble, and they may be "dumb and popular", but there's no denying one thing: they are comfortable. Ask anyone who's ever sat in one, and they will agree. Definitely not worth the $750 per chair that my company paid for them at the time, but they are very comfortable.
    • by p4ul13 (560810) on Wednesday February 25, 2004 @04:07PM (#8390105) Homepage
      I saw the URL "cowanalexander.com" and briefly thought "Cow Anal Exander dot Com?!?!". What sick bastards are posting here, and what the hell is an 'exander'?

      Sorry.

      • by Anonymous Cowtard (573891) on Wednesday February 25, 2004 @04:31PM (#8390353)
        what the hell is an 'exander'?

        Typical Slashdot misspelling. That should read 'expander.'
        • Years ago, I worked for a computer rental company. We had set up a number of computers in a booth at a cattle related trade show. For a couple hours, my boss and I looked at the "products" being advertised in the booth next to us. Most were unitentifiable. One however looked like a giant dildo with a power cord on one end and long copper electrodes running the length of it. It was about 2 feet long. We approached the salesman at the end of the show and asked what it was. He said it was for collecting
  • by El (94934) on Wednesday February 25, 2004 @03:51PM (#8389911)
    What in their business model suggested to them "You know, we could make a LOT more money delivering music online if me spend company funds to buy a Harley and a Hummer!"
  • "...Plus, they've got pictures!"

    I'd like to amend the blurb to: "Plus, they had pictures, until they were posted to the front page of slashdot."

    This comes from the ~20th comment.

  • A Hummer? (Score:3, Funny)

    by vijayiyer (728590) on Wednesday February 25, 2004 @03:52PM (#8389918)
    Maybe if companies like MP3.com used their VC to build their businesses rather than buy Hummers, so many wouldn't have gone under. I bet you can't even listen to MP3s over the roar of the diesel in that thing...
  • Aerons "Dumb"? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TPIRman (142895) * on Wednesday February 25, 2004 @03:52PM (#8389919)
    The pricey Herman Miller Aeron chair may have become a symbol of dot-com excesses, but to call it "dumb" is going overboard -- it's a great chair. It's gotten somewhat of a bum rap because many people never take the five minutes to adjust the chair to their body shape. Once you make the proper adjustments, it's heaven [egrindstone.co.uk]. I never understood why you wouldn't properly calibrate a "peripheral" that you use 100% of the time while you're working. Treat your ass with respect!
    • by st0rmshad0w (412661) on Wednesday February 25, 2004 @04:04PM (#8390065)
      Are you saying you have to calibrate your ass?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 25, 2004 @03:53PM (#8389934)

    lots of those dumb Herman Miller Aeron chairs that were so popular

    You got something against the Aeron? I'm sitting in one right now, I've been using it everyday for years, it is hands-down the best chair I've ever plopped my ass down in.

    I used to have back pains every morning after sitting a lot, and discomfort after long coding sessions, even with an alarm that I set to tell me to stand up every 30 minutes. But all that went away with the Aeron, it is a "life changer".

    It got popular during the boom, like every expensive luxary item. How come you don't say "big dumb Hummer trucks", it seems like every dotcom CEO had one.

    Just sticking up for a good product. I have several other Herman Miller products, including a *very* nice Eames lounge chair, they are worth the money.

    • worth whose money? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by rbird76 (688731) on Wednesday February 25, 2004 @05:05PM (#8390787)
      I can understand that you like the chairs. I spend more than I should on fancy pens, and one can reasonably argue that they're not the smartest thing for me to spend my money on. On the other hand, it is MY MONEY (at least until it goes for taxes, my gf, etc.)

      The problem isn't that any of these items such as the Herman Miller chairs, the Hummers (although I could be convinced on that one...) or the Harleys aren't good, but that they're bought with someone else's money. Like the Tyco and Enron folks now, the dot-com people spent their investors' money as if it was given for their personal enjoyment rather than to fund a business intended to succeed. Items such as the above are good products, but their costs to individuals are not in most cases worth the benefits to the individuals. On the other hand, things like this are good if the money is someone else's; then the only comparison required is whether you could buy something else with which you would be happier with the money.

      Bottom line - if these items are worth your money, buying them makes sense. If it isn't worth your own money to buy them, however, than it certainly isn't the job of your investors or companies to buy them for you, and they are ultimately counterproductive to the missions those people intended to achieve (because the money could almost certainly be used for things more likely to achieve their ends). When companies buy these things, someone else almost certain got ripped off to buy them - whether it is their customers, investors, or others in the company. Their presence says that the people running the show treat other people's money as their own personal piggy bank, and such people aren't to be trusted (at least not with my money).
  • same old story? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nil5 (538942) on Wednesday February 25, 2004 @03:54PM (#8389942) Homepage
    I participated in the Enron auction, and let me tell you it was utterly a waste of time. The prices really were hardly less than retail value, and considering that the equipment was used (i was mostly interested in computers and lcd's) it was overpriced. What you had were lots of dumb folks out there that jacked up the prices so that nothing was really all that good of a deal or anything to be surprised about. I swear there were used 15" LCD's going for $4-500. You could buy one from BestBuy for that price last year.

    I'm just really skeptical about these auctions. I found that it really wasn't worth the effort of getting registered, calling in, etc.
    • Re:same old story? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Bilestoad (60385) on Wednesday February 25, 2004 @04:06PM (#8390098)
      So now you know how auctions work, eh? If there weren't "dumb folks out there that jacked up the prices" why would anyone go to the trouble of arranging an auction? Ever sold anything on eBay? Try an experiment - sell some old crap with plenty of pictures and a gushing description and watch the money roll in - it's uncanny how some people want garbage.
      • Re:same old story? (Score:3, Interesting)

        by mrpuffypants (444598) *
        That reminds me of a experiment that my dad and I undertook a few years back. We were trudging through a Hobby Lobby with my mom, looking at silly kinck-knacks that nobody ever buys and he got the idea to put one on ebay.

        We found an 'old looking' horse coach model and bought it for 5 dollars that day. He put it up on ebay and said that "we found it in the attic. It must be comething that my grandmother bought back in the day. It seems really old but overall it looks like new."

        5 days later it sold for $25.
        • You Bastard!! I bought that stupid horse coach!!

          (Although I guess you've saved me the embarassment of finding this out in public on Antique Roadshow...)
    • When the Minneapolis offices of the Federal Reserve moved, they opened up the building and had a furniture/office junk sale. A friend and I went down there simply for the opportunity to wander through a landmark modern building that had been otherwise closed to the public -- you could even trapse through the vaults and marvel at the bulletproof glass in the cash loading areas, etc.

      Anyway, they were selling a bunch of junk office stuff for astronomical prices. It was amazing to see what they were charging
  • by bigjnsa500 (575392) <bigjnsa500NO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Wednesday February 25, 2004 @03:55PM (#8389961) Homepage Journal
    but I am having a hard time dealing with that name

    cowanalexander

    Something is just plain wrong with it.

  • MP3.com timeline (Score:5, Informative)

    by dtio (134278) on Wednesday February 25, 2004 @03:55PM (#8389964)
    Here's a quick, brief MP3.com timeline:

    July 1999 - MP3.com floats, raising $344 million.

    August 2000 - MP3.com pays Sony $20m in damages for copyright infringement

    September 2000 - MP3.com pays Universal $250m in damages for copyright infringement

    May 2001 - Vivendi Universal announces intention to purchase MP3.com

    Vivendi-Universal's former chief executive Jean-Marie Messier bought MP3.com for $372m in 2001 and integrated it into Vivendi Universal Net. The rise of file-sharing, the dot.com crash and perceptions of MP3.com as a 'sell-out' resulted in the investment failing to meet its potential.

    November 14, 2003

    MP3.com to close

    CNET has acquired MP3.com and will be shutting down the downloading service. According to an email sent to MP3.com subscribers, the site will no longer be available as of December 2nd. According to the same email, CNET is planning to launch a service in the future.

    Feb 25, 2004

    Complete Liquidation of 100,000 sq ft facility - 100s of Servers (Sun, Compaq, HP, & Dell) Clarion EMC Storage - 100s of PCs, Notebooks, Printers - 100s of Herman Miller Aeron Chairs - 10,000 sq ft health club - Pool Table, Foosball, Video Arcade Games, Ping Pong. Artwork, Collectable Musical instruments, Contemporary Furniture & more...
  • Exactly why.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BWJones (18351) * on Wednesday February 25, 2004 @03:55PM (#8389969) Homepage Journal
    This is exactly why these companies went belly up. You barely have a product in an ill defined niche with no real defined revenue stream. Yet, the company is able to build all sorts of cool little baubles, model rocket ships, framed guitars, high end ass buckets, Hummer automobiles, work out equipment etc...etc...etc... from start up capital.

    This is exactly why I want to see first hand any startup company that I am interested in investing in. Field trips aren't just for grade schoolers.

    • Re:Exactly why.... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Shakrai (717556) *
      Yet, the company is able to build all sorts of cool little baubles, model rocket ships, framed guitars, high end ass buckets, Hummer automobiles, work out equipment etc...etc...etc... from start up capital.

      Anyone who invests in a start-up company or OTC stock without checking it out first deserves what they get.

      On a more insightful note do you this was part of the tech bubble or the more recent trend towards corporate corruption? Why the hell would anyone waste limited start-up funds on hummers unless th

      • Re:Exactly why.... (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Bombcar (16057) <racbmobNO@SPAMbombcar.com> on Wednesday February 25, 2004 @04:49PM (#8390585) Homepage Journal
        You want to know the secret? It is appearances. If they have a boring cubicle farm and realistic goals, then no venture capitalist wants to give them BIG money.

        But if they have a flashy business plan, and all sorts of things that "break the corporate model," then they can say that they're going to "create a paradigm shift" and "change the laws of business."

        Otherwise, they get no more venture capital. A venture capital funded company is usually trying to get more venture capital, so all that junk is basically marketing for the moneybags.

        "See! We're revitalized the employee-work relationship! Standard notions of economic production do not apply to us! We'll make it up in volume! Buy now!"

        Note that the smaller venture firms are very rarely heard about, until they become big successes. They play their cards right, unlike LittleFeet (next door to us), who burnt through 25 million in just over a year. They had thousands of items of their product, but no market. So I got a laser printer, a torque wrench, and a table for pennies on the dollar at the auction.

        Vive la vulture capital!
  • The Hummer (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ThogScully (589935) <neilsd@neilschelly.com> on Wednesday February 25, 2004 @03:55PM (#8389970) Homepage
    The Hummer has 50,000 miles on it and it's on its second engine. What did they do to that thing?
    -N
  • by toupsie (88295) on Wednesday February 25, 2004 @03:59PM (#8390010) Homepage
    No wonder this company couldn't make a profit. They have more freaking workout equipment [cowanalexander.com] than the Crush fitness center in lower Manhattan. What the hell does an "Internet Company" need with a washer/dryer, fooseball tables, pool tables, electronic dart boards, more workout equipment than a Manhattan gym, stand up arcade games, massage tables, autographed size 20 sneakers and other non-business related crap? If I were an investor in MP3.com, I would have shoved that autographed size 20 sneaker up some CEO's butt. Outrageous!

    These guys appear to be so wasteful, I bet they used sharpies on whiteboards and just threw them away after each meeting. And we wonder why there was such an Internet bubble and a recession.

    • by deathcow (455995) on Wednesday February 25, 2004 @04:30PM (#8390345)
      Having worked at a startup (that failed!) I'm sure it is much worse than meets the eye. How much did all that eye candy cost after all? I'm sure _ONE_ million dollars would go a long way towards buying all that workout equipment, the Humvee and replacement motor, the washer/drywer, foosball, The Sneaker, those autographed guitars, AND the Aeron chairs. Keep in mind this company found a way to zero HUNDREDS of MILLIONS of dollars and you're not doing that with Pez machines and steel welded mp3.com vanity logos.
  • by JayBlalock (635935) on Wednesday February 25, 2004 @04:00PM (#8390017)
    Except perhaps by being too successful. Remember, at the same time that Napster was grabbing headlines, MP3.com was the legitimate face of the online music biz. They were saying everything that the RIAA didn't want anyone to say, and worse, they were making money at it. (not to mention providing a highly attractive alternative to traditional record contracts) Contracted composers like those hired to do video games found it to be a perfect outlet for releasing music that had an audience, but wouldn't rate an actual CD release. Major groups were even releasing singles on MP3.com and profitting greatly from it.

    Then they got bought out by Vivendi-Universal, and suddenly dropped completely off of the radar, only to be quietly shut down once they were forgotten.

    Hmmmmm.

    • But now what happened? Are these same people who were making money from putting music there doing so elsewhere? Is there a similar model? I posed the question in the form of a rejected Ask Slashdot submission a while back: Where are people who used to put their music on mp3.com putting it now? Is anybody making money doing so?
      • by JayBlalock (635935) on Wednesday February 25, 2004 @04:13PM (#8390168)
        Well, that's the problem. Mp3.com, by being the first to do this, had the lion's share of the market. Once it got bought out (and ignored), it completely splintered the "industry." So there are a whole lot of little upstarts doing variations on the model, but all of them are so tiny as to present no real threat to the Big 5 at all.

        From a pure strategic standpoint, the move was brilliant. One large cash layout, and your only major competition is crushed, divided, and made irrelevant. From every OTHER standpoint, it was abhorrant. (especially in effectively stalling out any consumer-driven progression in the music industry for years)

        My personal favorite alternative (which I have no problem plugging) is Magnatune [magnatune.com]. You're free to listen to the entirety of their collection via streaming MP3, your licensed with permission to share the files, and prices are negotiable. If you want to buy an album, you can select how much you pay from $1-$20, based on what you think the album is worth.

        It's a truly ambitious model, and amazingly, they seem to be doing OK so far on the small scale. But can they move out of a 'niche' market? I doubt it.

  • Forget the hummers, dude. Anyone else see the arcade machines? Galaga, Ms. Packman, Raiden II, Soul Edge...
  • by kbahey (102895) on Wednesday February 25, 2004 @04:02PM (#8390041) Homepage


    Some of the stuff is teenage oriented.



    However, if you look at the photos from the link in the article, there is :


    and other goodies for those who live near La Jolla in San Diego.

  • I know this sounds crazy but years from now things from the Internet Boom Era will be serious collectibles.

    Machines from the industrial revolution eras are now priceless. So keep some of these pentiums and .com registration paperwork for your grand kids etc etc.
  • A bunch of stuff! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by LoudMusic (199347) on Wednesday February 25, 2004 @04:03PM (#8390057)
    What in God's name were they doing with all that computer hardware? It's a website with a database. In a single picture there were several (five?) Sun Enterprise level servers, any one of which could do everything by itself.

    I see two problems.

    A) People have dumb ideas and think "the Internet" and more computers will help them make money.
    B) Some other idiots loan the idiots in problem A more money than is required.

    They've got a bunch of cool stuff though.
    • Lots of computers (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 25, 2004 @04:13PM (#8390173)
      MP3.com handled 1.2 megabits per second of traffic during the peak of the day and never got below 300/400 megabits per second. This translates to the delivery of over 3 Terabytes of music in a month to the community.

      MP3.com also served up over 5 million page views per day and had over 2 million media files and 250,000 artists.

      MP3.com provided daily statistics to all of the artists and updated several hundred charts in over 300 genres of music on a daily basis.

      All of this was done reliably. MP3.com was one of the faster web sites on the Internet.

      Speed and scale requires a distributed computing solution which is exacltly what MP3.com pretty bright engineering team built. Everything was replicated and built in clusters. Distribution tools were automated so that everything remained in sync and operational metrics were extremely detailed.

      A lot of the people at MP3.com did a terrific job, some made some important legal errors.
    • by UnknowingFool (672806) on Wednesday February 25, 2004 @04:38PM (#8390424)
      What in God's name were they doing with all that computer hardware? It's a website with a database. In a single picture there were several (five?) Sun Enterprise level servers, any one of which could do everything by itself.

      In it's heyday MP3.com claimed to have about 100,000 songs in its database. So 100,000 x (4 minutes avg song) x (1MB/min at 128kps mp3) = 400GB. That's just to store the songs.

      Then you have to deliver that content to several million users and maintain their accounts. Also you might want to bill them automatically as they buy instead of sending them a paper bill each month. So you may want to set up a B2B relationship with Visa, MC, Amex, Discover.

      On the web site, you might want to host your own site rather than pay someone to host it for you since your content may change dramatically every day and you may want the most flexibility in terms of control. Also with serveral million users, your bandwidth bill if you pay another company to host may be huge. Hosting your own site may be the way to go.

      Since mp3 is your product, you might want to rip and encode your own rather than get a copy from your brother/neighbor/friend. It would help too to complete the ID3 tags and grab that data from cddb.com or somewhere else.

      Oh, by the way, all those functions above need a backup server just in case. Throw in an email servers, a Windows Domain Controller, a few file and print servers and that only leaves finance, HR, payroll, accounting, marketing, and code development to buy computers and set up infrastructure.

  • It's a shame. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Robotbeat (461248) on Wednesday February 25, 2004 @04:04PM (#8390064) Journal
    As an artist that had music offered on MP3.com, I am very disappointed that MP3.com died. It's very sad, really. I've listened to bands for the first time on MP3.com which I later went out to buy a CD of. The people who suffer most from this failure is the underground music scene. The ability to get your sound out to a large audience was really a good thing for both the artists (free distro, big audience) and the listeners (free songs from a wide variety of music). All my favorite bands (MeWithoutYou, Nina Pinta and the Santa Maria, Zao, etc.) had a few free songs offered on MP3.com, and it was great if you ever wanted to show someone else some cool band. If MP3.com closed because of lawsuits, it's likely partly because major labels (or corps like ClearView) felt threatened by the ability to hear any new band out there from any musical style without being controlled by the major labels. And the idea of free AND legal music downloading must have been horrible to them. As far as those people who want to control my freedom to express myself to a large audience and to support talented bands without having to pay a large record label (most of the bands are on indie labels, if any label), I hope they rot in AO*cough*L.
  • You all may laugh, but I seriously want this thing [cowanalexander.com] There is nothing like a Tornado table.
  • by Tablizer (95088) on Wednesday February 25, 2004 @04:06PM (#8390090) Homepage Journal
    The items up for sale include lots of those dumb Herman Miller Aeron chairs that were so popular

    I tried one of those at a used furniture store recently. I was too damned fat for it. Like everything else of the dot-com era, it seemed geared around hyper 23-year-olds.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 25, 2004 @04:08PM (#8390118)
    The MP3 Independent Artist database continues to be maintained by Trusonic.com which was a business subsidiary of MP3.com. Many of the artists granted permission to transfer their material to that business and therefore it has not been lost as widely reported.

    The Independent Artists enrolled in the Trusonic music and messaging programs are receiving regular royalty checks.
  • by Plocmstart (718110) on Wednesday February 25, 2004 @04:09PM (#8390130)
    Does the Hummer come with the plastic water bottle [cowanalexander.com] between the driver's seat and the console? You can keep the Hummer... I just want the water bottle...
  • by The Ape With No Name (213531) on Wednesday February 25, 2004 @04:10PM (#8390145) Homepage
    All of that high-end equipment and no one knows how to focus a camera? Even a digital Camera?
  • by maggard (5579) <michael@michaelmaggard.com> on Wednesday February 25, 2004 @04:27PM (#8390315) Homepage Journal
    For those with short memories in the bubble offering things like great chairs, good food, and in-house diversions was good sense. You were competing with every other employer in the over-heated market and that sort of stuff was just plain expected.

    Indeed, frankly, a lot of it is still justifiable.

    A good chair means that 100k/year coder is gonna be able to work out their inspiration without the distractions of an aching back or sticky ass. For a $500 more then the standard office crap-chair that's a good investment, especially as a capital depreciation and defense in an bad-ergo disability suite.

    Similar for food, drink, and toys. It keeps the crew in the building, talking to each other. It means they're not taking their hour off to troop to the local lunch hole where they'll be sitting at the table next to the competition spilling your plans. Figure $arcade-game = $day-at-teamwork-camp, not a bad value amortized.

    Furthermore it's amazing the kinda allegiance baubles and amenities like that will buy. I've seen folks turn down 30% larger paychecks for a trendy office space, free fruit juice, and a tres kewl atmosphere. Multiply that by a full of staff and per-person it comes down to a great value with the improved recruiting and retention, costs a fraction the headhunter, interview, and training costs.

    Lastly, cars and motorcycles? Promo costs. Tax code is nice to 'em and they get your name out there. Check around your current employer and you'll probably be amazed at some of the trophies and gifts and banners and other paraphernalia that they're purchasing as a matter of course.

    Particularly for .com's half of the "product" was name and buzz, scoring the next VC round. Flashy toys things were standard, indeed de rigeur. Getting an article in the local paper, your logo shown at a rave, instant PR and cheap at the price. It's easy to be snide afterwards but then those were the rules of the game and what got you your paycheck, sensible or not.

  • by mabu (178417) on Wednesday February 25, 2004 @04:32PM (#8390365)
    People don't realize that most of the early dot coms were basically Ponzi Schemes.

    You look at these pictures of perverse excess and luxury that seemingly had little to do with their business model but you are ignoring the fact that "appearing" to be wildly successful to the point of wasteful spending was THE most substantive part of these companies' business models.

    The scheme involved inflating the value and impression of the company long enough to snag another greedy investor or corporation and then hand the mess off to them. It was inevitable that at some point, the pyramid scheme would collapse in on itself. The trick is to just make sure you get out before it does, or more appropriately, make sure you're not stupid enough to let your sense of greed lull you into believing any of these people know what they're doing.

    When I see things like this, it makes it a lot easier for me to live with myself knowing that while I could have over-hyped my dot-com and made a bundle, it was not the right thing to do, even though I admit that any individual or company dumb enough to purchase or pump capital into a business with no tangible revenue stream deserves to get ripped off.

"A great many people think they are thinking when they are merely rearranging their prejudices." -- William James

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