New Economy Wistfully Recalled As Tiny Dot-Com Promotional Object Found In Drawer

In This Section

Vol 39 Issue 02

Bored Assistant Principal Browses Through Confiscated Items

INDEPENDENCE, MO—Unable to find anything else to do, bored Harry S Truman Middle School assistant principal William Podrewski rifled through the school's box of confiscated items Monday, searching for anything of interest. "Lots of cherry bombs in here," the 51-year-old Podrewski mused while sifting through the box, coming across a butterfly knife, a packet of raisins, and a Puddle Of Mudd CD. "Man, when I was a kid, I would have gotten seriously horse-whipped for having some of this stuff." Podrewski eventually settled on a faded March 1974 issue of Oui magazine.

Business Traveler Closes Mini-Bar

CHARLOTTE, NC—After a long day of meetings and seminars, business traveler Patrick Hodge stayed up late Monday, closing the mini-bar in room 1815 of the Charlotte Marriott. "I'm usually a two-martini-then-hit-the-sack kind of guy," Hodge said. "But I was really wound up, and they had lots of those little bottles of my favorite liquors, so I said, 'What the hey?'" After closing down the mini-bar, Hodge staggered to the hotel's vending machine to beat the 3 a.m. "after-mini-bar rush."

Track Winnings Reinvested In Blackjack Futures

ATLANTIC CITY, NJ—Seeking to grow his financial assets, Piscataway, NJ, gambler Richard Pasquale shrewdly reinvested his $2,432 trifecta win in the third race at Belmont Park in high-yield blackjack futures Monday. "The thoroughbred game is so vulnerable to track fluctuations, I thought it would be better to transfer my funds into a more proven money-maker, one with a tremendous upside," said Pasquale, speaking from the blackjack pit at Harrah's Atlantic City casino. "Plus, I got a feeling I'm headed for a hot streak." He then instructed his dealer to hit him.

Area Man Proud Of Blood Type

RADCLIFFE, IA—Despite its being the uncontrollable product of genetics and chance, Phil Schroeder's blood type is a frequent source of pride for the 26-year-old graphic designer. "I'm B-negative," said Schroeder, expecting to get a big reaction from coworker Mindy Tremont. "That's the second most rare after AB-negative." Schroeder, who has been known to high-five fellow B-negatives, went on to tell Tremont that individuals with Type B are said to be creative and excitable, prompting her to murmur, "Wow."

Eliminating Stock-Dividend Taxes

As part of his tax-cut plan, President Bush has proposed abolishing taxes on stock dividends—a move critics say primarily benefits the rich. What do you think?

Skeptic Pitied

FAYETTEVILLE, AR—Craig Schaffner, 46, a Fayetteville-area computer consultant, has earned the pity of friends and acquaintances for his tragic reluctance to embrace the unverifiable, sources reported Monday.
End Of Section
  • More News
TV Listings
Just Like Everything Else!: Fox 8 p.m. EDT/7 p.m. ABC Pete's wife is still on him about building that darn shed, these kids are going to be the death of Sheila and Dave, and the hot next-door neighbor is up in EVERYBODY'S business! Sunday nights on ABC couldn't be any more familiar!

Special Coverage

Fantasy Sports

Little League Pitcher Just Getting Fucking Shelled

RED BANK, NJ—After watching the 11-year-old give up the fourth straight double that inning, sources confirmed Sunday afternoon that local Little League pitcher Dustin Bauer is getting absolutely fucking shelled out there.

Partying

New Economy Wistfully Recalled As Tiny Dot-Com Promotional Object Found In Drawer

SAN FRANCISCO—The "New Economy"—the Internet-driven business landscape once predicted to make "bricks and mortar" retailers obsolete—was wistfully recalled Monday, when a small dot-com promotional item was discovered in the junk drawer of former dot-commer Eric Noyce.

The antHead.com promotional thingy.

Noyce, 28, an associate vice-president of business development for Pets.com from August 1998 to December 2000, came across a small gadget emblazoned with "antHead.com" while searching for a corkscrew to open a $3 bottle of wine.

"Holy shit, check this out," said the minimum-wage-earning Noyce as he examined the slick-looking promotional doohickey. "antHead.com. I think I remember getting this. It was in a goodie bag I got at some launch party. antHead, antHead... What did they do again?"

According to roommate Bryan Bollinger, a former Flooz.com tech-support supervisor and current delivery driver for Angelo's Pizza, Noyce became sentimental and introspective while gazing at the useless but expensively manufactured trinket.

"He had this far-away look in his eyes, like he'd been transported back to a more innocent, simpler time," Bollinger said. "I guess we can all relate to that feeling."

Bollinger, who has bounced between unemployment and under-employment for two and a half years, then returned to watching TV as Noyce continued to wax nostalgic.

"Wait a minute," Noyce said. "I remember this antHead thingy having some sort of button that would light up different colors every time you squeezed it. Shit, how much do you think something like this would cost to make? Those guys must have spent a fortune on these. It doesn't really do anything, but I remember pulling it out of my launch-party gift bag, thinking it was kind of cool. Sort of."

Noyce then tried to squeeze the object to see if it would still light up. It did not.

Like thousands of other dot-com promotional doodads produced from the mid-'90s until the New Economy bubble burst in the winter of 2000-01, the object was created as a means of "raising awareness and generating excitement about the brand." Handed out by the thousands at antHead.com's extravagant launch party in July 1999, it soon found its way into Noyce's bedroom junk drawer, along with numerous other equally functionless giveaways from the time, including a FilmZone.com miniature director's chair, a Boo.com yo-yo, and a Kozmo.com glow-in-the-dark floppy flyer.

"Wait, I got it!" said Noyce, snapping out of his silence. "antHead! They had this huge pre-launch ad campaign in alternative weeklies across the country, with those mysterious 'teaser' ads that showed the ant-face logo with just the words 'antHead Is Coming.' When they finally launched, the party was held in five cities simultaneously, each one simulcast to the others via live satellite feed on huge video-projection screens. I'm pretty sure Douglas Coupland was the celebrity host."

Added Noyce: "I think the antHead site offered either original Shockwave-animated programming, live music webcasts, or both. Or neither."

Though neither Noyce nor anyone else in the U.S. can remember, antHead.com went public in August 1999, making its debut on NASDAQ at $17 a share. By April 2000, the stock had risen to a whopping $114 per share, with a market cap of $81 billion.

As part of their compensation packages, Noyce and his fellow dot-com employees were often issued stock options, which have come to be known in the financial world as "pretend Internet money." This pretend money, now estimated to be of slightly less value than the multi-colored paper bills used in Monopoly, was considered extremely valuable at the time. A great deal of this imaginary wealth was actually used to purchase Time Warner, one of the largest media conglomerates in the world.

"I remember the food at the antHead launch was great," Noyce said. "They had ceviche and grilled shrimp on skewers and these really great mini-fajita hors d'oeuvres. I just wish I could remember more about the company."

According to financial analysts, for many people Noyce's age, the New Economy boom was a mythic, idyllic time in American history.

"Prosperity seemed to hang from tree boughs like ripe fruit," said Forbes senior writer Peter Kafka, author of What The F@%* Happened?!?: The New Economy—Fall '97 To Winter 2K. "A revolutionary cyber-transformation of global culture and commerce seemed only 12 to 18 months away, and it felt like nothing could ever go wrong. It was a time of innocence, idealism, and magic."

"There we all were, straight out of college with zero real-world work experience, making $500,000 a year for, like, 12 weeks before transitioning into long periods of unemployment," Bollinger said. "Man, those were great weeks."

"Reminiscing about those days must be an emotional experience for Noyce," Kafka said. "Those antHead people had practically unlimited venture-capital start-up funds. He probably can't help but wonder about all the things that money could have bought, like a washing machine so he wouldn't have to haul his laundry all the way down to the basement of his rathole apartment complex every time he needed to wash his Arby's uniform."

Next Story

Onion Video

Watch More