Bored one weekend in May, Mr. Kaplan put his dot-com dead pool game onto a Web site and called it FuckedCompany.com, with a logo humorously evoking the magazine Fast Company.
But the Web site's success has been no joke. Within weeks, thousands of techies from around the world were swarming the site, contributing all-too-real tips about the next dot-com to bomb.
FOUNDED PK INTERACTIVE
With its mix of ironic humor and authentic news, the site has been attracting everyone from investors to headhunters to the morbidly curious ever since, and Mr. Kaplan says he is now weighing offers "in the millions" for the site.
With daily updates spiked by Mr. Kaplan's acerbic wit (a recent blurb describing the woes of a Web site called ShopNow.com was headlined: "Or later"), the site has attracted more than 170,000 unique visitors per month, he says.
The site now is also attracting banner ads, while other sites brokering the same type of information have died.
FuckedCompany's success has been an inadvertent detour for Mr. Kaplan, who has a day job as president of PK Interactive, a boutique Web shop in Manhattan. The shop, which opened its doors in 1999, has six employees and routinely turns away business despite never having marketed itself. Clients have included Mead Paper and business-to-business sites ResolveStar and Blue Grape Merchandising.
COPING WITH FALLOUT
While pursuing his dream of being a drummer, Mr. Kaplan went to Manhattan and was hired by one of his idols, former MTV personality Adam Curry at Think New Ideas.
Eventually Mr. Kaplan opened his own Web design shop, doing most of the programming and design. Today he spends more time managing the agency and working on new business, along with evaluating rumors and writing the blurbs that appear on his dead-pool site.
As the site's fame has risen, Mr. Kaplan has had to cope with the fallout of success. In response to a complaint by Fast Company, he recently changed his site's logo and solicited a new one from readers.
Despite not having reached his goal of becoming a drummer, Mr. Kaplan says his parents are proud of him. "They love the site and seeing how it's succeeded -- they just can't say the name of it," Mr. Kaplan says.