Numbers depict a bungee-jump of a year

By Published on .

Numbers don't always tell the whole story.

As we present Advertising Age's year 2000 Interactive 100 against a backdrop of industrywide chaos, you'd expect the rankings below to show dramatic year-on-year drops in revenue. It doesn't.

Why not? Because the business collapse was so rapid and dramatic that companies only felt it during the last half of the year. In January 2000, the typical business development team's mission was to answer phones and fill out a few choice Request for Proposals.

Then swiftly, some time after Nasdaq's April crash, the phones stopped ringing-so fast that the growth in the first half of the year obscured the devastation of the second half.

The numbers might also lead one to believe that the industry must be grossly mismanaged to show growth and yet endure huge layoffs and several business collapses. But that's simplistic. Though many i-shops made poor decisions in 2000, part of the blame has to lie with the topsy-turvy demands of Wall Street. During the boom, analysts and investors only wanted reassurance that public i-shops could keep up with their growth. The Street wanted these companies to hire ahead of the revenue curve, and applauded office openings and low attrition rates. Putting brakes on that growth is proving impossible in some cases.

Whether looking at the first half of the year, or the ulcer-inducing second half, the whole bungee jump seems unnecessarily violent. If the world was overly enamored of anything dot-com early last year, its sudden disenchantment with the Internet in the second half of 2001 may be equally disengaged from reality.

The Internet is still in the process of changing many things, if not "everything" as had once been promised. I-shops are still playing a central role in that transformation.

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