The dot-con anniversary
A slew of news stories will be published this week tied to the five-year anniversary of the dot-com peak. The Nasdaq hit 5,048 on March 10, 2000.
The Merc has its own series started here, and will continue through the week. We take special note of the reporting by the Seattle Times, though, which has done a very impressive job telling the story of apparently one of the top dot-cons of them all: Naveen Jain, the charismatic former leader of InfoSpace. Story includes note of an interesting email sent to Jain from Jed Smith, of San Francisco venture firm Catamount Ventures, fretting that he'd go to jail if he invested as Jain requested. We heard Jain speak in early 2000, and remember thinking his hype stood out from the rest. We look forward to seeing the rest of the package as it unfolds over the next couple of days. Of particular interest is what happened to Jain, and the degree to which the SEC really screwed up on this one.
UPDATE: As we posted this earlier this morning, a question crossed our mind: Could the InfoSpace con/debacle ever have happened in Silicon Valley? We told ourselves we'd think about it, indeed the question may seem a tad parochial. But wouldn't any CEO who tried such stunts (threatening bodily injury, etc) in Silicon Valley have been run out of town before he could make his next hire? Word about character travels so quickly in this place, and networks are deep, it's hard to imagine someone like Jain thriving here. You look at all of the high-profile mess-ups like MicroStrategy, Enron and WorldCom -- none of them are here, even though we had so many aggressive dot-coms based here. Sure, we had the small-fry insider trading cases, and have had our share of shareholder lawsuits, but we still don't have a valley version of InfoSpace. Or are we missing something? Would be interested in getting feedback on this.