Remembering the Dot Com Crash

Twitterbirds

Twitterbirds

Especially in the Mission District where life seemed to change overnight in the dot com boom of the late 1990s and then burst just as quickly in 2001, it is hard not to wonder how this run-up will evolve.

Mission Local was not around then, but I was and the changes from 1998 to 2000 made me feel as if I was living in the hyperinflation of Argentina where I once worked as a reporter. Real estate prices surged – forever ending the neighborhood’s reputation as a destination for low-income residents – and the restaurants on Valencia filled with young tech executives working for websites that made no money, but paid huge salaries.

The new boom, the industry argues, has been different because the companies going public do make money. Twitter, however, is different as a story in today’s San Francisco Chronicle reminds us on the eve of the company’s public offering.

What’s Twitter’s sales pitch to potential investors?

“They’re taking you to the edge of a swamp and saying, ‘Someday, this is going to be paradise,’ ” said Anthony Catanach, a professor of accounting at Villanova University.

Although much more popular than any of the big companies that failed in the last dot com bust, a list of some of those failures on investopedia that includes webvan, pet.com, theglobe.com, and etoys is a reminder that companies can disappear.

Wired has a wonderful chart of what it calls the “the most iconic IPO’s of all (dot com) time.” You can view it here.

Filed under: Mobile, Today's Mission

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