Kozmo is dead.
April 11, 2001 3:59 PM   Subscribe

Kozmo is dead. I know they weren't making much money, they spent too much on advertising, and they were eventually going to go away, but they're possibly the most convenient and useful service on the web (amazon being the only thing close). I'm sorry to see them go, they were the greatest thing in the world when you're sick or when it's too late to go out for videos and ice cream (kozmo.com is unreachable already).
posted by mathowie (45 comments total)
Alas, poor Kozmo. I miss you already. UrbanFetch always seemed a poor, second-rate clone, and I didn't mourn their passin like I will Kozmo's.

Of course, it's partially my fault. When I used to work at the Empire State Building, I'd order (this is before the minimum orders were instituted) a Snapple for $1.25 and have one of their orange-wrapped couriers bring it to me to save me the trouble of going down 76 floors.

And they'd do it. For free. Suckers.

Anyone else have any Kozmo abuse stories?
posted by anildash at 4:04 PM on April 11, 2001

Damn. I really hate to see any of the dot-coms go down, especially one that was as useful & practical as Kozmo.com; it makes the Luddites shiver with glee. Although I never was able to use Kozmo.com (since I live in a 2nd-rate town that believes itself to be "world class" - ha!), I've done plenty of reading about it and was anticipating having the service in my neighborhood someday. Fear not, though, all of the best dot-com ideas that have tanked will, eventually, re-surface in some form or another online. Viva la revolucion.
posted by davidmsc at 4:05 PM on April 11, 2001

On a slightly related note, everyone be sure to post eBay links if they start selling those backpacks or the cool orange mopeds.
posted by anildash at 4:11 PM on April 11, 2001

Sigh. I must say I'm most depressed about this latest failing. Of all the crazy net-notions, Kozmo seemed like a good one. Maybe that's just cause I used them so much.

I wonder if this means I don't have to return the DVD I have rented right now...
posted by nomisxid at 4:11 PM on April 11, 2001

I haven't used kozmo for a long time. I bought a few CDs from them back when they had CDs for $9.99 and promo coupons were all over the place.

I was just talking with the guy who works next to me. Apparently a kozmonaut showed up at his apartment a few days ago, gave him a a bag of juices, and asked him to sign the paper. He hadn't ordered anything and he was pretty certain that his roommate (who was in the shower) hadn't ordered anything either. The kozmo guy eventually checked his paperwork and realized that he had the right apt. number but the wrong street. Sweet delivery mess-ups.
posted by gluechunk at 4:23 PM on April 11, 2001

This is such a huge drag. Though, to be honest, I've only used them twice since they instituted their minimum order requirement.

Me and the missus used to order a pint of Ben & Jerry's at least once a week. With no minimum order and no delivery charge, it actually ended up being cheaper than buying it at the local grocery store.
posted by waxpancake at 4:34 PM on April 11, 2001

Kozmo delivered some DVDs to me to watch on Thanksgiving, right after dinner. They were so wonderful. But I think that most people began to use them to bring over a coke or a box of candy when they got hungry.

My question is what will stoners do in the future. Kozmo was a service built to service their needs. I remember when I was in that demographic I had to actually get off my ass and walk to the 7-11. So perhaps it still does snow in july as you walk uphill to school both ways.
posted by captaincursor at 4:36 PM on April 11, 2001

In other news:

Meanwhile, another survivor (so far) of the dot-com shakeout, Kozmo.com, has simply renamed itself "Kozmo" and announced its intention to expand its brick-and-mortar presence.

This is another strategy that may ensure longevity, as the online company realizes the importance of existing in both the online and traditional business worlds.
(April 11 06:32 PM EDT)

What are we to believe?
posted by frednorman at 4:38 PM on April 11, 2001

Uhm, when I read it again, the article I cited sounds fairly out-dated. Sorry.

The Kozmo management must've seen this thing coming for a while, then. And, after all, there must be some Kozmo users out there who were profitable for them. Why didn't they scale down business to cater for those customers, then -- the fewer, but profitable ones -- instead of continuing on the (appearantly) loss-making cater-to-everyone path? Would that be a move too big to make? They tried with minimum orders, appearantly, but obviously not big enough.
posted by frednorman at 4:49 PM on April 11, 2001

Idea to Kozmo: call 7-Eleven. There's gotta be a way to leverage their incredibly large presence.
posted by hijinx at 4:51 PM on April 11, 2001


Now I feel all guilty for boycotting them after they added a delivery fee (fine) and a minimum purchase (less fine). One or the other I could understand, but both . . .

On the other hand, they were darn handy when it was raining and you wanted a video or two.
posted by feckless at 4:54 PM on April 11, 2001

Idea to Kozmo: call 7-Eleven. There's gotta be a way to leverage their incredibly large presence.

You would hope so. We've already got pizza delivery services - why not 7-11 using Kozmo as a convenience item delivery service? Or Safeway using Webvan as a grocery delivery service, for that matter?
posted by youhas at 5:13 PM on April 11, 2001

Ahh, Kozmo. I ordered from them a couple of times a long time ago, but I too stopped after they added minimum purchase. Well, that and I had $10 of late fees that I didn't want to pay. Unfortunately, I guess I will never get to see if they would give me porn videos if I ordered them even though I'm 17. Damn, I missed my chance.

Seriously though, Kozmo in my mind has always been a mystery. I don't see how they ever expected to turn a profit with the service they provide. They sell everything! It's almost like Amazon with 1 hour delivery. Many other online stores seem like pretty viable businesses to me, but I just could never see how it was even REMOTELY possible to make money from something like Kozmo. I guess I was right...
posted by swank6 at 5:36 PM on April 11, 2001

Waxing sentimental over the loss of your ability to get something for nothing is sweet, but how about some viable business models which don't sound absurd from day one, PLEASE. At least Amazon.com sounds plausible.
posted by ParisParamus at 5:43 PM on April 11, 2001

Confirmation from news.com. 1,100 laid off.
posted by jkottke at 5:49 PM on April 11, 2001

we just rented some dvds from kozmo a couple of days ago, and haven't returned them yet. wonder if the drop boxes are still out?
posted by smich at 6:21 PM on April 11, 2001

My next move was going to be to a neighborhood or city that I could use Kozmo. It seemed like a great service. I tried getting friends in NYC to order when I would visit, but my friends (now in-laws) did not have a computer. Now they are getting a computer, but there is no Kozmo.
posted by vanderwal at 6:46 PM on April 11, 2001

Last summer I got the new Sleater-Kinney delivered to my door for $4.99

That was cool.
posted by smeat at 7:04 PM on April 11, 2001

I often wondered why they don't deliver alcohol. To me, it seems like a perfect match: you're having a party, getting a little buzzed, but notice that the beer supply is running low. That could be a problem, but you could just use your trusty Kozmo.com to deliver.

I know that in some jurisdictions it wouldn't be possible. But in Washington, DC, where I live, and where Kozmo.com operates, I don't think this would be a problem legally... Anyone know why Kozmo doesn't handle booze then? (or *didn't*handle booze?)
posted by Witold at 7:05 PM on April 11, 2001

wow, this is going to be one of those things that really defines a particular time -- like pet rocks, i guess. my memories are starting to be dated, because in the beginning of my relationship we used to order kozmo and have the sweetest little dates... alas.
posted by palegirl at 7:09 PM on April 11, 2001

smich, maybe it's like the time I rented Excite Bike from the video game rental place the night before it burned down. Woo, got it keep it, go me.
posted by Mark at 7:30 PM on April 11, 2001

witold, I know there were regional restrictions that kozmo had to abide to. for example, in chicago you could rent "adult" videos from them but not tobacco/smokes. but in seattle you couldn't rent adult videos but could get tobacco (i think). netflix is similar in that they won't/can't ship certain movies to certain cities.
posted by gluechunk at 8:01 PM on April 11, 2001

er, minor correction: i meant buy tobacco products, not rent them. d'oh.
posted by gluechunk at 8:05 PM on April 11, 2001

I'm pretty sure you'd have to factor in depreciation if you were going to rent out tobacco products. And that just seems like a lot of work. ;)
posted by fusinski at 8:19 PM on April 11, 2001

This is depressing. I live in a city neighborhood that has only recently become residential. In other words: no services. There's one convenience store a few blocks away and that's it. I was dependent upon them for vids, and I used them a lot for other stuff too.

posted by frykitty at 8:23 PM on April 11, 2001

that wasn't supposed to happen. and i was just getting so used to it...are there any other services that compare well to kozmo (in the boston area)?
posted by paulrockNJ at 8:38 PM on April 11, 2001

Services? How about just asking if the store you want something from delivers? Actually, I always thought there was a potential synergy between stores' interest in providing delivery and taxis. Never mind.
posted by ParisParamus at 8:55 PM on April 11, 2001

It seems to me that Kozmo never needed to be a .com at all. They also tried to expand too quickly. They should've stuck with one city, and figured out how to turn a profit before expanding. Also, how much of a premium did Kozmom customers pay for the convenience? Did Kozmo set their prices too low, creating unrealistic expectations and even boycott when they added a delivery fee or minimum orders.
posted by gyc at 9:20 PM on April 11, 2001

Now I'll have to have PDQuick bring the ice cream and Video Hut will have to bring the DVDs. I don't know *who* is going to bring the Hot Wings, but they better speak up soon - I'm HUNGRY!

posted by CrazyUncleJoe at 9:27 PM on April 11, 2001

Seriously though, Kozmo in my mind has always been a mystery. I don't see how they ever expected to turn a profit with the service they provide.

You're absolutely right, they couldn't. Just over a year ago, Christopher Byron wrote a scathing piece about Kozmo for the New York Observer/MSNBC that made it quite clear that not only did Kozmo have a business plan as lame as every other dotcom's, but one with the added bonus of being literally physically impossible to implement:

Granted, it’s difficult to be precise about such things. But on the available evidence we may thus say with some confidence that were Kozmo.com ever to become, like Amazon.com, a $1 billion-plus per year (revenues) business, the company could arguably become the biggest private sector employer in America, with perhaps as many as 800,000 workers on its payroll —whole armies of them peddling frantically through America’s cities, knocking people down like bowling pins.

To put this in perspective: The only private-sector employer in America with more than 800,000 employeees is Wal-Mart, and the number-two employer, General Motors, is way down the list at 392,000. And practically all of them at least make more than minimum wage. There's no way Kozmo would ever manage to hire that many people for such a crappy job that pays that little money. And that's only their biggest impediment; the article lists several more, such as the fact they were spending 95% of their revenue just for the delivery. This company was doomed from day one.
posted by aaron at 9:42 PM on April 11, 2001

Yeah, but ICE CREAM!


TO       ME!

The govt. props up fiscally non-viable farmers, why not ICE CREAM? Did I mention "delivered to me" ?
posted by CrazyUncleJoe at 9:50 PM on April 11, 2001

I agree 100% gyc, I never understood why Kozmo expanded as quickly as it did, nor why it lured customers in with unsustainable prices. I stopped using it as soon as they added all the fees and it became impossible to order on impulse because the times were all filled.

Kozmo was great, and I enjoyed it for nearly a year, but it seems like some foolish business decisions doomed them. (I apologize for the hackneyed analysis.) Still, it's sad. I don't want to go back to the pre-web days.
posted by megnut at 9:53 PM on April 11, 2001

aaron points to an article which states:
For starters, there is probably not a single neighborhood, in any of the cities that Kozmo.com now serves, where you can’t get the same exact stuff Kozmo is selling, by simply stepping outside your door and walking half a block in any direction.
I'm not trying to defend kozmo or it's business plan, but the above sentence don't ring true for me. I live in a city yet Kozmo had lots of cds and dvds (and food items) that were not 1/2 block from me.

Additionally, most people can walk a 1/2 block and buy a pizza, but that fact doesn't stop successes in pizza delivery places. The cost involved with a delivery was not the problem, the cost of the product was the problem.
posted by gluechunk at 10:06 PM on April 11, 2001

Hmm, I don't know if this is really significant in the big picture, but I just thought about this. The few times I did use Kozmo, I didn't tip the delivery guy. I would have gladly done it, but I didn't really thinkg that I was supposed to (were you supposed to?). It just seemed different than ordering pizza. Maybe if Kozmo somehow made it more clear that tips were appropriate, the delivery job would have been a bit more enticing.
posted by swank6 at 10:36 PM on April 11, 2001

...whole armies of them peddling frantically through America’s cities, knocking people down like bowling pins.

Don't tell me that a major news outlet made the "peddling/pedaling" mistake. (Checking the source article.) Yep, they did. Guess editors aren't obsolete after all, on the Web...
posted by kindall at 11:47 PM on April 11, 2001

and stoners everywhere light a candle in mourning. impulse munchie purchases & video game delivery at the click of a mouse, and damn, some of those bike fellas were h-o-t...
posted by thc at 5:04 AM on April 12, 2001

The only happy part to this story is that Kozmo didn't get their IPO out in time and the naive investing public didn't end up holding the bag on yet another dumb-on-its-face dot com.
posted by Chairman_MaoXian at 6:58 AM on April 12, 2001

Oh darn, Americans will now have to get off their duffs and walk down to the Store for Maxim Magazine and Hagen-das.

God help us all.
posted by bondcliff at 7:54 AM on April 12, 2001

Kozmo seattle, by the end, had tobacco and beer/wine. I always tip anyone who brings me food. I think it's pretty rude not to tip someone who's risked their life so I can eat, but I delivered pizzas to cover my tuition in college, so perhaps I'm just more aware of what being a delivery driver entails...
posted by nomisxid at 9:23 AM on April 12, 2001

Funny...I saw a Kozmo delivery guy (or at least he had all of the telltale signs of one) in Urban Outfitters yesterday. He looked pretty glum, but at the time I didn't know about the news (maybe he didn't either). I almost asked him to bring me some Ben & Jerry's. Glad that I didn't.
posted by fooljay at 11:03 AM on April 12, 2001

I don't know *who* is going to bring the Hot Wings, but they better speak up soon - I'm HUNGRY!

Doesn't Domino's have Hot Wings?
posted by daveadams at 11:28 AM on April 12, 2001

Dominos has hot wings, PDQuick has hot wings, I think there are even a few other places that deliver hot wings. I need GOOD Hot Wings.

I guess I'll just have to go to Hooters like everyone else.
posted by CrazyUncleJoe at 11:40 AM on April 12, 2001

Witold: I'm in DC too and they told me a couple weeks ago they had an alcohol license in the works. Ended up bonding with a Kozmo delivery dude late one night over a delivery of cigarettes to me that I did order but showed up with the wrong name... the delivery guy was pretty insistent that *my* ID wouldn't do, he needed the other person's, I was pretty insistent that I also wanted the smokes and I was the only person living at this address---we had to call, like, Kozmo Central to get approval, and the delivery guy apologized for my trouble, saying "they're really strict about checking that, especially since we're trying to get a beer and wine license."

which likely means, swank6, you'd've been out of luck on the whole underage porn thing.

I always tipped the Kozmo delivery people. Except that guy. No cash on me that night and I was too lazy to go out and hit an ATM and a convenience store, which is why Kozmo was at my place at all. I felt really bad about that. I feel worse about it now.
posted by Sapphireblue at 7:08 AM on April 13, 2001

The only time I didn't tip a kozmo guy was the night they really wanked up my order and it took 3 visits and two delivery guys to get it right. I felt bad about it afterwards and overcompensated the next time kozmo delivered. I so wanted Ben and Jerrys last night, but I had so much work that I couldn't justify ... justif... okay, I was much too lazy to walk to the store.
posted by CrazyUncleJoe at 10:01 AM on April 13, 2001

short interview with two ex-Kozmo employees. "there were like 30 riders watching a fucking movie in the warehouse while three riders made deliveries."
posted by gluechunk at 5:31 PM on April 26, 2001

« Older Harry Secombe passes at 79.   |   Charlotte Judge Says Get Married Or Move Out Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments