Tuesday, June 24, 2003

Dotcommed & Dazed

Last week when I was in KL drinking teh tarik with my friends, we bumped into one of the key figures of the dotcom phenomena in this region. This former owner of a high-flying dotcom company was treated like a celebrity at a time when the dotcoms could do no wrong. The whole industry then was caught up in a frenzy of public listings and stock options. He told us that he is now divorced and broke. A casualty of the dotcom crash.

The years between 1995 to 2000 were heady years of growth for the IT industry. It was a life of excitement and excess for all of us who were part of that boom. The corporate battle cries, the lavish stock options, the glitzy roadshows and the prospect of forging into brave new frontiers of cyberspace caught all of us up in a heady spin. No one wanted to be left behind: you are either a dotcom or you are part of the "old world". Everyone wanted to jump on the bandwagon. It did not matter how dotcoms were supposed to make money; hits and hypes were good enough indicators of future earnings. Paradigm change became the excuse for being unconventional. It was one long and wild party; one that finally ended with a thud and a lingering hangover.

We are still trying to recover from that hangover now. Many are still in a daze. And we are staring ahead not into brave new frontiers anymore but a wasteland of pessimism and cynicism. Like all battle-hardened warriors though, we would pick up the pieces and trudge on. Who knows, maybe further down the horizon there is another brave new world waiting for us?

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