Digital Hustlers: Living Large and Falling Hard in Silicon Alley

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9780066209234: Digital Hustlers: Living Large and Falling Hard in Silicon Alley

"In a forty-year business career we won't go through a period like we went through in the last five years."

-Kevin Ryan, CEO, DoubleClick

The commercial and cultural explosion of the digital age may have been born in California's Silicon Valley, but it reached its high point of riotous, chaotic exuberance in New York City from 1995 to 2000 -- in the golden age of Silicon Alley. In that short stretch of time a generation of talented, untested twentysomethings deluged the city, launching thousands of new Internet ventures and attracting billions of dollars in investment capital. Many of these young entrepreneurs were entranced by the infinite promise of the new media; others seemed more captivated by the promise of infinite profits. The innovations they launched -- from online advertising to 24-hour Webcasting -- propelled both the Internet and the tech-stock boom of the late '90s. And in doing so they sent the city around them into a maelstrom of brainstorming, code-writing, fundraising, drugs, sex, and frenzied hype...

until April 2000, when the NASDAQ zeppelin finally burst and fell at their feet.

In the pages of Digital Hustlers, Alley insiders Casey Kait and Stephen Weiss have captured the excitement and excesses of this remarkable moment in time. Weaving together the voices of more than fifty of the industry's leading characters, this extraordinary oral history offers a ground-zero look at the birth of a new medium. Here are entrepreneurs like Kevin O'Connor of DoubleClick, Fernando Espuelas of StarMedia, and Craig Kanarick of Razorfish; commentators like Omar Wasow of MSNBC and Jason McCabe Calacanis of the Silicon Alley Reporter; and inimitable Alley characters like party diva Courtney Pulitzer and Josh Harris, the clown prince of Pseudo.com. Together they describe a world of sweatshop programmers and paper millionaires, of cocktail-napkin business plans and billion-dollar IPOs, of spectacular successes and flame-outs alike.

Candid and open-eyed, bristling with energy and argument, Digital Hustlers is an unforgettable group portrait of a wildly creative culture caught in the headlights of achievement.

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About the Author:

Casey Kait, at twenty-five, was vice president of MP3Lit.com and most recently a senior producer at Salon.com. She lives in New York City.

Stephen Weiss, at twenty-five, was executive vice president of RedFilter.com and a former magazine editor. He lives in New York City.

From Publishers Weekly:

"Oh my God, what happened?" laments a key figure in this informative account of the rise and fall of startup millionaires in "Silicon Alley." Consisting almost entirely of interviews with the digerati of New York City's version of Silicon Valley, this oral history by dot-com veterans Kait and Weiss (of Salon.com and RedFilter.com, respectively) opens circa 1995, when only geeks had e-mail and skeptics believed that the Internet would go the way of the CB radio. But soon dot-com exploits landed on the front page and money started to rain down from venture capitalists. Perhaps the culmination of the mania was the legendary three-month bash for New Year's Eve 2000 thrown by Pseudo.com's Josh Harris (a manic figure who emerges as the Caligula of Silicon Alley). But on April 17, 2000 a date that the dot-commers speak of the way their parents refer to the Kennedy assassination the NASDAQ began its downward spiral. Within a few months, TheGlobe.com began paying its employees with free pizza instead of cash; other startups dissolved their Web sites. It's a sad story that the wistful dot-commers describe as a Garden of Eden-type morality tale: in the beginning the Internet was pure and good, then it was invaded by capitalists who corrupted it for their own sinister designs. Kait and Weiss astutely avoid passing judgment on such beliefs (even when a colleague is admiringly described as the "Henry James of Silicon Alley" and another claims he'll be bigger than Andy Warhol). A good read despite the naivete and arrogance of its dramatic personae, Kait and Weiss's book provides a timely elegy for an extravagant, dying culture.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

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