This is part 2 of my In The Beginning post. The start of 2001 was the beginning of the end for the Internet money train. The US was entering a recession and investors were starting to question the sky-high valuation placed on a dot com business. During the boom time, it was not uncommon for a startup to raise $20 million from an IPO, and then spend the entire $20 million to build their brand. Being in a media site, The TechZone benefited greatly from that flood of advertising money. Now that well was drying up.
One by one, I watch all the ad networks I dealt with go under, including the Maximum PC network. A site call FuckedCompany.com started up to list all the companies that were entering the Internet graveyard. I saw my income drop to just $1,500 a month during this dark period. I had to make a drastic change in my lifestyle. During the boom days, I was spending over $1,500 a month just eating out.
Then on the morning of Sept 11 2001, I woke up to check the TTZ Forums and saw a post that a couple of planes had crashed into the Word Trade Center towers. Suddenly, my sinking income didn’t matter so much.
I had my designer in Finland create a set of USA Logos to show my support of America after the attacks. Those logos would stay on The TechZone until the creation of TTZ 4th generation.
I remember having to go to Comedex 2001 by car because our airline had gone under two days before Comdex started. Comdex took place only two months after the 9-11 attacks and it mark the end for the North America’s biggest trade show. Two years later, Comdex died. The 2001 Comdex was a really strange one. Security was super tight. We had to go through metal detectors and bag checks to get inside. That Comdex also had some of the most amazing parties I ever attended. I guess everyone just needed some kind of release after 9-11 and many companies staged some huge parties to try to forget our worries – if only for a little while.
I saw many fellow websites go under during the crash. Some of them were ran by really good people, but they just couldn’t pay the bills with no money coming in. I survived the dot com crash because the cost of running the site was pretty small and I had quite a bit of money saved up from the boom days.
It was during this time that my sponsors came to my rescue. With all the ad networks dying or dead, the hardware manufacturers stepped up to the plate and bought ad spaces on sites they dealt with. I still remember that ICQ page from Lester at Abit Computer. He asked me how much for a 160×600 ad spot. I gave him a price for one month and he replied, “We’ll take a year.”
I slowly build my Internet income to about $4,000 to $5,000 month and I stayed at that level for most of the bust years. I kept wondering in the back of mind if the Internet will ever come back to life. Will the train ever get back on the tracks? Then one day, in the summer of 2003, a little something call Google AdSense came along.