Article: The Industry Standard Is Gone

by Rob Spiegel

Amid the flood of information on how Internet companies performed and
contributed in the aftermath of the attack on September 11, was a small item
about Standard Media closing the Industry Standard Website, once the
epicenter of the Internet economy. Certainly it was no surprise after the
company ceased publishing its weekly print magazine last summer. The Website
had been run by a skeletal staff while Standard Media, in bankruptcy, sold
the last of its assets.

It was also no surprise when the Standard ceased publication. Just two years
old, the company had quickly swelled as it succeeded in becoming the major
business publication tracking Internet business. But a 40 million revenue
projection for 2001 just wasn't enough to cover the bills. I suppose 40
million in sales is a crushingly small when you've budgeted for 100 million.

Yet it still hot me as a quiet blow when I read that the Standard Website had
gone dark.

I know it's a tiny blip of a news item. Like the rest of the country, I'm
still struggling to absorb the staggering magnitude of last month's attack.
I'm still trying to understand the new world we entered on September 11.
Plus, the economy, already a confusing bird, has suddenly entered very
mysterious waters. So who cares about the last whimper of the passing
Internet economy?

Call me a sentimentalist, but I'm nostalgic for those heady neweconomy days
that came to an abrupt end just 10 months ago, It seems like ten years. The
Standard was the flagship of a burgeoning business publishing boom, the
leader among a flowering of magazines and Websites that got it. Remember when
you could divide the world into those who got it and those who were
hopelessly brick?

I spent a happy couple years scribing in the middle of the delirious mess of
a tech boom, first drafting twicedaily dispatches as a correspondent at
Webbased news service Ecommerce Times, and later as a senior editor at
Ecommerce Business, a Cahners fortnightly pub trying to do the Standard one
better by focusing on ecommerce, the bleeding edge of Internetbased
business. I had the trilliondollar beat, B2B.

We felt like war correspondents, covering the firehose gush of boomtime
developments, watching the business world reimagine itself. Now ecommerce
has been absorbed by traditional industry sectors. Now there are real war
correspondents back at work covering more grimly serious events.

Ecommerce Business was one of the first pubs to go. Cahners shut it down
without notice or fanfare and scattered the staff to the wind. I landed at
another Cahners trade, Electronic News, where I get to cover the continuing
B2B saga at tech companies such as Intel, Cisco and E2opn. My former boss,
Lester Craft, now heads up the last of the pure ebusiness slicks, Line 56.
After Ecommerce Business fell last January it was followed by Business 2.0,
which continues in name only as Fortune's eCompany Now. And finally the
Standard is history.

Many are pleased to see Net economy crumble. The traditional players in
finance and industry were disgusted by the excesses of hype and hyperbole.
They scoffed when newbiz writers speculated that the business cycle may come
to an end due to the endless productivity gains delivered by a globally
connected world. The naysayers are certainly getting their day. The business
cycle, as you may notice, is fully in place.

As I've written many times in this column, Internet business is still in fine
shape. A Webbased storefront in a wellestablished center such as Yahoo
very well may be the quickest and cheapest way to launch a small business
today. But the concept of the Internet economy ushering in a new world has
been dashed against the brutal rocks of history. We live in a more serious
time now, not so dizzy with dreams.

The passing of the Standard's Website is the last tiny sigh of an era passed

About the Author

Rob Spiegel is the author of Net Strategy (Dearborn) and the upcoming
Shoestring Entrepreneur's Guide to Internet Startups (St. Martin's Press).
You can reach Rob at

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