At the height of the dot-com bubble in January 2000, 19 online startups bought very expensive Super Bowl advertisements to herald their arrival on the national scene.
Eight of those companies no longer exist. Most didn’t make it more than a year or two.
They were crushed by the looming dot-com bust and one even folded before the end of that year.
Others have merged, been acquired, or continue to chug along, but with a much lower profile.
Only one — E-Trade — has survived and is strong enough to have an ad during Super Bowl XLV this Sunday. (Though we kind of wish they hadn’t. We hate that talking baby.)
The Super Bowl ad is the ultimate stamp of legitimacy for a company, which is why the king of this year’s start-up class, Groupon, is going all in on their first big TV campaign. Will this be the coming out party that takes them to the next level? Or are they the next Pets.com?
Pets.com - If You Leave Me Now (2000) - 0:30 (USA)Founded: 1998. Folded: 2000 The pet supply company (and it's ironic theme song, 'If You Leave Me Now') was the poster child of the first dot-bust: Too-much, too-soon excess for a product that people probably didn't need. It was arguably the biggest flameout of the big bubble.
Epidemic - Bathroom (2000) - 0:30 (USA)Some kind of viral e-mail marketing scheme that tried to pay people for putting referral links in their personal emails. They never got a second round of funding and folded by the end of 2000.
Lifeminders - The Worst Commercial (2000) - 0:30 (USA)They went the cheap-o 'ironic' route, spending nothing on the production of their ad, while promising customers ... more emails. They self-declared it the 'worst ad on the Super Bowl.' And it was. This vague unnecessary service folded soon after.
Netpliance - Webhead (2000) - 0:30 (USA)Founded in 1999 as 'Shbang!', the company manufactured low-cost computers designed only for surfing the internet. In 2002, they pivoted to network security devices -- after changing their name to Tipping Point and dumping the entire 'netpliance' concept. (The URL is now owned by a shady-looking online pharmacy.)
e-stamp - Time Saving Tips (2000) - 0:30 (USA)This was the first company authorised to sell US Postal Service stamps online. They went under in 2001, and the name and patents were bought by Stamps.com
ETrade - Money Coming Out the Wazoo (2000) - 0:30 (USA)A decade later, these companies are still going strong, but most have a much lower-profile (i.e. they won't be advertising on the big game anytime soon.) Click the link to see their ad from the 2000 game.
- E-Trade (Multiple ads as sponsor of the halftime show.)
- Oxygen.com (Actually, Oprah's first TV channel, but the ad told women to 'log on')
- Monster/HotJobs (In 1999 and 2000, they were separate companies with different. Now they've merged into one giant job site.)
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