Pop.com on the Cutting Room Floor

Lights, camera – that’s a wrap! That about describes the scene for Pop.com, the so-called entertainment Web
portal that never managed to get off the ground, despite being backed by
Paul Allen and Hollywood heavies that included the DreamWorks dynamic duo
of Steven Spielberg and Jeffrey Katzenberg. The failed venture is largely a
result of too many cooks in the kitchen spoiling the broth, and it’s likely
to serve as a lesson to other would be entrepreneurs that it takes more
than a roomful of glam and oversized egos to produce a smash hit in the new

Pink slips were delivered to nearly all of Pop.com’s 90 or so employees,
with just a baker’s dozen remaining to man the scaled back operations of
its Countingdown.com subsidiary
acquired earlier this year. Representatives fired off a prepared statement
to comment on the current state of affairs, opining, “Although the Internet
continues to represent an exciting, creative opportunity for us, the market
has shifted dramatically since our original announcement, resulting in this
being a less viable business for us.”

In laymen’s terms, that roughly translates to, “We had plans to tap the new
issues market in a whirlwind IPO without a penny in revenues or a formal
business model on the table. After gorging ourselves with newfound money,
we planned to issue generous stock options to all of our Hollywood friends
and relatives, before cashing out on the back of small investors. But,
since no one showed any interested in our hyperbole, we decided to pull the
plug. I mean really – you didn’t think we were actually planning to invest
our own money in this hair-brained scheme did you!?”

After blowing through some $10 million since its vaporware launch last
October, Pop.com scrambled to auction itself off to online film aficionado
iFilm last month. But eleventh hour
talks stalled when Pop.com reps were asking far too high a price for so
little in return. Paul Allen himself had at one time slapped a quarter
billion dollar valuation on this venture-backed bag of wind when it first
set sail, but skeptical suitors were only willing to pay pennies on the
dollar for a failed start-up with hardly a tangible asset to speak of.

With no white knight in site, Pop.com has essentially shuttered its doors;
and like a ship taking on water, pseudo-celebrity rodents are scurrying for
dry land. The embarrassing stigma of being associated with a
highly-publicized dot-com meltdown leaves a bitter aftertaste for a group
of entertainment tycoons at the top of their game. But misery loves
company, and Pop.com won’t be alone for long. Napster copycat, Scour.com, axed most of its employees last
week amidst pending litigation from the Recording Industry Association of
America and the Motion Picture Association of America.

In light of its grim future, the firings are a certain precursor to the end
for Scour. Hollywood super-agent Michael Ovitz has even reportedly been
busy trying to unload his interest in the peer-to-peer upstart because of
some obvious conflicts of interest associated with swapping free movie
files over the Web. Curiously, those same conflicts weren’t readily
apparent when it looked as if Ovitz might still be able to cash in on the
nascent technology. But now that the party’s over, Tinseltown’s elite are
exiting stage left.

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free to forward them to [email protected].

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