The InsiderOne Daily Report
Monday, January 15, 2001
Fleeing From 'Land Of The Dot-Coms'
InsiderOne's Michael Goldberg writes: I scan through the Wall Street Journal daily, and I can tell you it would be difficult to exceed the Journal's glee about the downturn of the dot-com/new economy. Some days late last year it seemed that half the paper's "Marketplace" section was devoted to shouting that the king was dead. Or rather, that the bubble had burst. The other day the Journal ran a piece titled "To Land of the Dot-Coms and Back," which was mostly about a 42-year-old man named Joseph Galli, Jr., a business type representing a new trend: CEOs who came from the old economy, put in a little time at a dot-com or two, then ran with their tails between their legs back to the safety of the old economy. Galli was an exec at tool-maker Black & Decker Corp. who spent 13 months as president and COO at Amazon.com, then jumped to VerticalNet for a six-month stint as CEO. Last week he fled the dot-com world, taking a job at Newell Rubbermaid Inc. as president and CEO. The Journal quotes Norbert Gottenberg, the job recruiter who placed him at both Amazon and Newell Rubbermaid: "[Galli] learned both at Amazon and VerticalNet what the New Economy is all about by being in the frying pan" as each experienced its recent difficulties. "He should be able to apply those lessons to a company that needs to be in the New Economy." For those who are utterly ignorant about something, it's easy to write it off. Journal reporters sat on the sidelines writing their business stories and getting their weekly paychecks in the mid- to late '90s; meanwhile, some of us risked all, living on the edge in the Land of the Dot-Coms, having experiences those reporters, and suits like Galli, will never understand. Galli's new company makes, among other things, plastic containers that you can store your leftover dinner in. He's the kind of guy who says that this "is a dream job for me." What lessons will Galli bring to Rubbermaid from his two years in the Dot-Com land? How to lose money? How to halve the value of your stock? How to end up with a pile of worthless stock options? In the mid-'90s the Net looked to be a place where communities of people with shared interests who happened to live in different parts of the world could meet. It looked to be the cheapest of all printing presses, with the potential to distribute ideas to receptive minds located the world over. It promised that finally! artists, writers, musicians, filmmakers, animators and photographers would be able to reach audiences without interference from the suits. The past three or four years have obscured much of that. The media have been filled with what I think of as various versions of the Internet Business Story one variant hyping some inane idea, another (recently ubiquitous) about the end of the dot-coms. They're all, essentially, about making or losing money with Web businesses. This obsession with dot-com money has obscured the millions of people who now take the Web for granted, using it each day to communicate and to get information. It has obscured the many artists who are still creating a brave new online world. I hope we'll see many more Galli types heading back to offline corporate jobs where they can "apply those lessons" they learned. Most of them, it appears, learned nothing of real value.
Datastream: Unwound's long-awaited new collection of studio recordings will be an epic double album titled Leaves Turn Inside You. The 13-song collection, due for release by Kill Rock Stars on April 17, was recorded at the group's studio in Olympia during the past year; it's been three years since Unwound's last studio recording, Challenge for a Civilized Society. Songs on Leaves Turn Inside You include: "We Invent You," "Look a Ghost," "Summer Freeze," "Demons Sing Love Songs," "Radio Gra," "Below the Salt" and "Who Cares." Unwound will hit the road next month for a 14-show West Coast tour beginning February 1 at the Bottom of the Hill in San Francisco. Check out all the tour dates at killrockstars.com.
The InsiderOne Daily Report appears weekdays at 9 AM PST, except when it doesn't.
Michael Goldberg is the president of insiderone.net. He founded Addicted To Noise in 1994.