go bye bye!
May 18, 2000 6:45 AM   Subscribe go bye bye! The oh-so-hip online fashion boutique burnt through $120 million in 6 months. Now it's gone. Is this one of the first casualties of the dot-com rush? Is this the beginning of a trend, or is this an isolated incident?
posted by solistrato (12 comments total)
Damn, I thought Boo was really cool. Got some shoes from there once. But they're not gone quite yet, so watch for a big clearance sale.
posted by endquote at 7:01 AM on May 18, 2000

This goes to show that you can't go willy-nilly breaking rules in the book of user expecatations, even if by doing so you provide a theoretically better user experience; people want things to function "normally". You know, like amazon.
posted by ericost at 7:07 AM on May 18, 2000

Reading about the failures of and DEN has left me with a good feeling, and I'm really not sure why.
posted by Calebos at 7:12 AM on May 18, 2000

The BBC was pretty hopped up about this on NPR. They brought in American consultant. Who didn't say much, she mostly just plugged her consultancy. They speculated as to why this happened. "Why they had the money... how could they fail?."

I think that this is much ado about nothing. Business fail, that's life... Online, or in shopping malls.
posted by Dean_Paxton at 7:42 AM on May 18, 2000

Boo gambled huge and lost....for now. Some of the stuff they did was really cool, but they made some big mistakes as well. Maybe they can recover and make themselves into the Halloween portal that domain name has always wanted to be.
posted by jkottke at 7:42 AM on May 18, 2000

I don't know, ? Seems very hip and all, but it doesn't look better than the other e-com sites. And wasn't the CEO of DEN this 16 year old? I remember watching something on that and how he had like 5 ferraries. as a holloween portal ? I'd buy.
posted by tiaka at 8:18 AM on May 18, 2000

I think part of the problem is that too many people think that "the rules are different".

In normal retailing, you have to have sufficient resources to live through about two years of losses before your business goes into the black. For restaurants that can be as long as three years.

Most of these startups have been burning through their money waay too fast; they've needed to turn profitable in six months or they're doomed. That doesn't happen.

Amazon is an example of a company which has the right idea: Amazon is still losing money, but they've got the resources to sustain their loss level for a long time yet, and they have a clear path to turn profitable in about another year or so.

In actual fact, most of these startups were never viable and were never expected to be viable. The real goal was to build up a market presence and then sell out to someone else. That's turning out to not be viable, and people are beginning to find that out. "We'll get acquired" is not a viable business goal.
posted by Steven Den Beste at 8:46 AM on May 18, 2000

People thought the Internet was a new econmic model, it is actually just a new distrubution model.

There is a good read on the subject over at Mappa.Mundi.
posted by Mick at 9:37 AM on May 18, 2000

Good link, Mick.

Knowing people who worked at -- smart, talented people -- I know that a lot of money went into the fulfillment network, not just the site. Amazon et al had the advantage of the existing book distribution system; had to put its together from scratch. And then, once that was in place, the site itself was a usability nightmare.

Less talented people in the US have made billions from their e-commerce exit strategies; more talented people will suffer in the next year or so. Boo has just served as a sacrificial offering for those who close their second rounds and think, "there, but for the grace of God, go I."
posted by holgate at 11:32 AM on May 18, 2000

Actually, less talented people outside the US have made millions: step forward, Nina Brink, and take a bow. In front of the public investigators, that is.
posted by holgate at 12:31 PM on May 18, 2000

Funny you should mention the usability holgate, I work for a software company in the UK and when boo were in the final phase of beta staff here were given logins and asked to comment on the site in return for discounts on clothing. One thing everyone agreed on was that there were quite fundamental flaws in the usability of the interface, these comments were fed back to boo but the site remained pretty much the same when they opened.
posted by Markb at 3:08 AM on May 19, 2000

Yeah, I had access to the beta as well, and felt the same way. I think one big problem was that the design team were left to play about with the UI while the execs were sorting out the fulfilment contracts, and the techies were putting in the commerce engine. And when you've got an extra six months of funded design time to play with, then it's more or less guaranteed to lead to over-embellishment.

But to crash Mac browsers on launch? Insane.
posted by holgate at 7:57 AM on May 19, 2000

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