The Dot Com Boom Goes Bust

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 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.

Read part 3 here.

19 thoughts on “The Dot Com Boom Goes Bust”

  1. Robert A. says:

    Can’t wait to read the next installment of the series.

  2. Eduardo says:

    I can’t wait until I read part 3 bro, it truly is an inspiration to see how you stood strong during the “Internet Great Depression”, that says a lot about perseverance and enthusiasm. Congratulations.


  3. AdrianT says:

    This is a good blog series. Thanks for letting us know some details of how you truly became successful.

  4. Mike says:

    This series is great! I think everyone who is investing and buying sites now, should read this post.

    I think this is excellent advice for people now, “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.”

    The future of internet advertising is excellent, but I think a back pedal is coming up soon.

  5. Matt says:

    The mystery of John Chow slowly unfolds. More I say, more!

  6. Renai LeMay says:

    hi John,

    let me say that I find you one of the most interesting writers on the net at the moment!


    Renai LeMay
    News Journalist
    ZDNet Australia

  7. Andrew says:

    I agree with Renai. A co-worker turned me on to the site. It is now my homepage. Keep up the good work, I’m learning lots!

  8. Great Story! I look forward to reading the rest.

  9. Mitza says:

    Ending the story with “To be continued” a great way to keep your readers, and find more readers on this blog.


  10. Nomar says:

    Good article, looking forward for the next part(s)

    And nice you got that designer design some USA related banners for your forum, good support for the victems

  11. Rich says:

    Just discovered your site and this blog stories are an amazing read. Keep it going… Did ever you think of publishing a book about your dotcom experiences;)

  12. Gdog says:

    Keep us updated, John.

  13. Bob Caswell says:

    Interesting that this coincides with the Economist’s article today on people “quitting their day jobs to blog for a living.”

    Read more about it here:

  14. Great post once again John. I remember asking you about your day to day life once, but this is even better! I love reading success stories. Maybe one day we’ll read this in Forbes!

  15. Matthew says:

    Nice post John. It’s been getting more interesting on this blog over the last few months. Keep up the good posts!

  16. David Mackey says:

    Really enjoying this look back on history.

  17. I enjoy reading your accounts of internet struggle and success John – roll on Part 3!

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