Some Web Turkeys for the Holiday Season
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With Thanksgiving now just a dim memory of excess and indigestion, VC Watch nominates a crop of holiday turkeys which have a bad taste far more persistent than holiday leftovers.
These foul fowl range from the brainless to the clueless, from the crypto-illiterate to the endless strings of meaningless buzz words that add up to a tragic waste of literacy. The start-up turkeys served up here reflect either a malignant disregard for language and Web user convenience or a thundering lack of cranial capacity. Maybe all of the above.
Mary Evelyn Arnold, who edits the VC Buzz section, wades through a swamp of smelly prose every day. While gathering the Buzz on a daily basis is challenging enough, she spends even more time decontaminating the Buzz news briefs to make them safe for human thought.
At our request, she pulled a few samples from just today's news releases. They include:
- anything "-centric"
- "the leading provider of" (particularly in an announcement of a Web site launch!)
- "partner" (as a verb)
- "first-to-market, first mover"
- "explosive growth"
Even more insidious are places where good words go bad. Mary Evelyn has found all too many phrases containing perfectly good words strung together in ways where the sum of the parts equals zero information. Found in just a couple of hours were these gems of verbal padding:
- "xxx delivers a new value proposition to companies with global commerce needs by combining a high-powered solution with low total cost of ownership."
- "xxx is uniquely positioned to offer marketers comprehensive, integrated solutions tailored to meet their individual needs."
- "xxx provides a full range of innovative access, hosting and e-commerce solutions to thousands of communities."
- "xxx is dedicated to staying at the forefront of technology and to quickly bringing to market the most complete suite of solutions that satisfies the full range of xxx demands presented by customers and prospects."
- "Retailers seeking to establish their online brand during this crucial holiday season, must provide superior customer service and unique value to attract and retain customers ..."
- "xxx is a global management and technology consulting organization whose mission is to help its clients create their future. "
Then there are the public relations types with no regard for others' bandwidth. On Thanksgiving Eve the Brunswick Group PR firm sent not one -- but THREE copies of the same 1.5-megabyte news release regarding something about Cisco. That's close to 5 megabytes of unsolicited files clogging up bandwidth and hard drive storage. All were deleted without being read.
But what made the Brunswick Group's e-mail even more surreal is the following statement at the bottom: "This email and any files transmitted with it are confidential and intended solely for the use of the individual or entity to whom they are addressed. If you are not the intended recipient, you are hereby notified that any use or dissemination of this communication is strictly prohibited."
Confidential news releases? Get a clue!
The same could be said for all too many web sites. VC Watch thought it might be interesting to write about Kozmo.Com which delivers videos, music, junk food and more to your door. But nowhere on their site is a phone number, an address or a shred of background about the company. And the only e-mail link is for customer service dealing with orders.
Sadly Kozmo.Com is not alone. On any given day, more than 30 percent of the sites we investigate offer no way to contact the company. And even those that try, frequently fail. VC Watch sent an e-mail to the press contact listed at eStar.Com. And like roughly 10 percent of the mailto: links we click, this one came back: "Undel