Purple Haze All through My Brain: The Internet and ASP Busts

  • Merrill R. Chapman


When the Internet exploded on the public consciousness in 1994, one of the reasons for the early excitement was that it seemed so fresh and new. This freshness was, as much else about the Internet proved to be, illusory. The Internet was a child of the 1960s finally all grown up, and it was about as new as LSD. And, like the notorious psychedelic elixir of the era of free love, flower power, and peace, those who partook of the Internet’s dot-com drug in the late 1990s experienced an amazing and mind-bending experience that often detoured into a bad trip of bankruptcy, unemployment, and day-after flashbacks of disbelief.


Stock Market Direct Marketing Desktop Application Banner Advertising Speculative Bubble 
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  1. 1.
    My father worked as a stockbroker during the 1960s and ‘70s, and I can remember him discussing National Video in the same terms people discussed the dot-corn companies of the late 1990s. National Video was an early “high tech” high flier that sucked up great wads of investor cash before disappearing from the scene.Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    Charles MacKay, Memoirs of Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds ( New York: Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, 1932 ), p. 72.Google Scholar
  3. 5.
    To get a sense of what awaits you in the future, I strongly suggest you see Minority Report,the 2002 sci-fi thriller starring Tom Cruise. The film depicts personalized digital advertising displays that greet you by name via scans of your retinal patterns. To depress you further, you should also see Gattaca, a scary and prophetic look into a biometric future. Much of Gattaca was shot at the Marin County Civic Center, a leaky edifice that was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and known only semiaffectionately by the natives as “Frank Lloyd Wright’s last erection.” To many people, the building resembles a giant ... well ... you get the idea. I passed this building every day on my way to my job as a product manager at MicroPro corporate headquarters on North San Pedro Road.Google Scholar
  4. 6.
    Winn blamed Wal-Mart for the bankruptcy of his first company, Dynasty Classics, in an interview in 2000 with Business Week magazine.Google Scholar
  5. 7.
    J. David Kuo, Dot.Bomb: My Days and Nights at an Internet Goliath (New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2001 ).Google Scholar
  6. 11.
    In early 1999, I was invited to give a presentation at a Software and Information Industry Association (SIIA) seminar on the ASP market and its prospects for success. The SIIA is the latest incarnation of the old Software Publishers Association. One of the reasons consultants and analysts attend these events is to present themselves as experts on a topic and attract future consulting gigs. The hope is that after a stirring presentation, members of the audience will rush up with their business cards outstretched to hire you to put their myriad sales and marketing problems straight. Unfortunately for my plans, I decided to give a straightforward analysis of the ASP market that concluded that most of the current business models and approaches were horsesh— ... not feasible. I was later informed by the SIIA that many in the audience had found my negative attitude discouraging and I collected very few business cards (well, none, actually). This experience drove home to me the realization that a herd of lemmings in the act of flinging themselves over a cliff are primed to discuss the importance of teamwork, the need to stay focused on the task at hand, and the necessity of maintaining a positive attitude.Google Scholar
  7. 12.
    Changing the economics of software business,“ Interactive Week,June 25, 2002.Google Scholar
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© Merrill R. Chapman 2003

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  • Merrill R. Chapman

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