RealTime IT News

Is the Dot Com Bust Coming to an End?

In a sign that the Internet sector may be nearing the end of its 18-month-old shakeout, a new report from Webmergers.com shows the number of shutdowns and bankruptcies by dot-coms in the first half of this year fell 73% from the same period last year.

While at least 93 Internet companies closed their doors or filed for bankruptcy protection in the first six months of 2002, the number is down is down dramatically from the 345 cases during the same period in 2001, according to the San Francisco research firm that has been tallying falls in the industry.

June, which had only 13 shutdowns, marked the sixth-consecutive month in which the number of shutdowns came in at less than 20, a world of change from the 16-month period preceding January, when casualties averaged 44 a month.

Since the height of the dot-com frenzy in January 2000, at least 862 dot-com companies have failed, according to Webmergers.com data.

Of the 862 shutdowns the majority have been e-commerce and content companies, with 368 (43%) and 217 (25%), respectively. Infrastructure (16%), Internet access (10%) and professional-services (6%) companies round out the top five.

With many of the e-commerce companies weeded out, the shutdowns have become dominated by Internet-content providers, infrastructure companies, Internet-services providers, and other providers of dial-up and broadband Internet-access service.

Despite many ex-employees desires to forget such Internet-wonders as garden.com and homegrocer.com, Webmergers found that a number of individuals are still interested in remembering the dot-com heyday.

The research firm, along with the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business, last week launched an online archive designed to create a permanent record of the dot-com era. The Web site encourages former Internet executives, employees and investors to submit e-mails and other items from both failed and successful dot-com companies.

According to Webmergers President Tim Miller, more than 400 individuals have registered with the site and its researchers have been promised hundreds of business plans.

"It has been said that those who fail to learn from the past are doomed to repeat it," said Miller. "By collecting the blueprints of both failed and successful businesses, we hope to create the raw materials for that learning to take place."

The Business Plan Archive is part of a larger archive being assembled by Internet Archive, a nonprofit organization that records Web pages for historical purposes. The project, which is funded through a $300,500 grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, will also document the personal experiences and accounts of the "refugees" or "working class" of the Internet boom and bust. This information, as well as the business-planning documents, will be archived and permanently housed at the Archives and Manuscripts Department of the University of Maryland Libraries.