"[My parents] love the site and seeing how it's succeeded - they just can't say the name of it."
Advertising age, 11/06/00
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There probably are readers who will object to a story chronicling the thoughts of a 25-year-old Internet entrepreneur who himself says, "I'm just some dude."
But make no mistake. Philip Kaplan, founder of the profane and yet oft-quoted corporate rumor site fuckedcompany.com, has a distinct pulse on the decimated dot-com sector and an opinion on what should be done about it. Largely reliant on subscription revenue, the site charges $75 a month for access to "rumors and comments" and $25 a month for just "comments." Many juicy tidbits are free on the home page, but because of Mr. Kaplan's terse, attitudinal commentary and the site's access to often uncannily accurate dot-bomb gossip, he estimates the site derives $60,000 to $70,000 a month from subscription revenue.
On Aug. 6, for example, fuckedcompany predicted this under the headline "Hilarious": "Rumor has it Flooz will be gone in a month or two. Yes, we are all stupid enough to trust a fucked dot-com to back our money." The once high-profile Web currency site filed for bankruptcy liquidation Aug. 31.
A member of Ad Age's i.20 class of 2000, Mr. Kaplan became disenchanted with the Internet culture even before any stock options he might have owned became worthless. While at Omnicom Group-backed i-shop Think New Ideas in his early 20s, he admits, "The whole thing was just a joke to me," clearly bristling at what he feels some Internet consultants got away with.
To Mr. Kaplan, most sites could be run with little overhead, and the ad-revenue focused business model is a farce.
Asked for his favorite dot-com closure of the year, he cites not a marquee name like eToys or Webvan, but Localbusiness.com, which shuttered in May. Why? Because it had 40 employees and managed to spend $20 million, he replies.
Not that he doesn't believe in the Internet; it's just that Mr. Kaplan's approach is a little, um, different. He opened and shut a down-and-dirty sex site, PrivateLabelPorn.com. He's in the midst of launching HTTPADS, a service he'll offer to sell banner ads on other sites as an impulse buy for smaller advertisers. He admits the model won't work for big sites, but thinks they need to rethink how they do business too, with less emphasis on direct response.
"I'm no advertising expert," he says. "But far as I know, when Burger King runs a commercial on TV, they're not expecting you to get up out of your chair and go to BK."
On second thought, maybe he is an expert.