The Death of the Web

Web. b. August 9th, 1995, d. July 18th, 2001.

The Obituary...

Web, age 5, of Silicon Valley, a promising marketing technology.

Born August 9th, 1995, Mountain View, California and died July 25th, 2001, penniless in an empty dotcom loft, abandoned by his former so-called "friends" and "investors".

Cause of death was lack of second-round B funding.

Private burial and funeral services: 3.00 pm. Saturday, July 21st, 2001.

Burial to be held in a Palo Alto backyard.

The Funeral...

You are invited to the funeral for Web. Come and pay your respects to Web, which nourished, employed, and amused us all for the last five years.

The Sockpuppet will be buried, along with family mementos: AOL "50 hours free!" CDs, worthless stock options, and so on.

Web's extended family has been invited: Bill Gates, Marc Andreesen, Jim Clark, Scott Adams, Guy Kawasaki, John Doerr, and others. Which will appear at the funeral of their only son? We'll find out.

Webvan will make its final delivery. Indeed… what would Webvan deliver on their last round?

The funeral will be held in a Palo Alto backyard (next to a Palo Alto garage.)

  • Casket viewing at 3 pm, Saturday, July 28th, 2001.
  • Services and eulogy promptly at 4 pm.
  • In Palo Alto at Andreas' house.
  • Please wear appropriate clothes: Hawaiian shirts, sandals, and so on.
  • Donations to any web-related non-profit, such as Amazon, Kleiner-Perkins, or similar.

The Eulogy...

Written by penniless, laid-off dotcom workers, the web's eulogy will be read on Saturday.

WebVan's Final Delivery...

After Webvan went bankrupt, we drove to their offices to see if we could get any souvenirs. The office complex was totally abandoned. Even the building signs had been removed.

We parked in front. A security guard came out and saw my sports car parked directly in front of the main door, so she assumed I was the CEO. We told her we were looking for souvenirs. She took us inside and we met a few of the engineers. On a beautiful afternoon, they had nothing better to do than sit at their desks in a dead company. They said we could take whatever we wanted.

We walked around behind the building and found the dumpsters. Piled up alongside were dozens of unopened boxes. Out of curiosity, we opened one. These were the gifts that Webvan was sending to partners, investors, journalists, and so on. What was Webvan sending in these boxes? Tulip bulbs from Holland!

Here's one of the cartons... The front of the box:

and the back of the box:

(Why is that so funny? The first and most famous bubble was the Dutch Tulip Bubble. For several years, a tulip craze caused a spectacular bidding craze in Holland over tulip bulbs. It crashed and many people lost their savings. Just like the web bubble. So it's quite ironic that Webvan, perhaps the most ridiculous (over one billion dollars in funding) was sending out tulip bulbs.

We loaded up on Webvan tulips and gave a box to everyone at the funeral. I planted a bunch of these in my front yard and these blossom every year.)

Notes for the Media...

Major networks (ABC, CNN, TechTV,) newspapers (New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Palo Alto Daily News, Los Angeles Times, etc.) plus local papers (San Jose Mercury News) and other media have been invited. Please arrive early for satellite dish setup. Please, no helicopters.

Funeral Permits...

I called the Palo Alto Police Department to ask for permission to hold a funeral in my backyard.

Me: Hi. I'd like to ask if I need a permit to hold a funeral in my backyard.

Police: A funeral? Oh, you need a permit for that. And you can't bury someone in your backyard. Unless you're doing a crime, and then we'll catch you (laughter.)

Me: Oh, it's not a body. It's a sock puppet.

Police: A what? A sock puppet?

Me: Yeah. The sockpuppet. The one that says "I want to play with your tabby cat!"

Police: I loved that commercial! You're going to bury the sock puppet?

Me: Actually, we're going to bury the web.

Police: Well, as long as it wasn't alive...

Me: It was alive. Once. But now it's totally dead.

Police: I see. Sure, go ahead. You don't need a permit.

Me: Cool. Thanks.

Police: And good luck with the funeral!

The Wake

  • The funeral was covered by The San Jose Mercury News, AdWeek, Salon, MediaTimes, and The Palo Alto Daily.
  • This webpage got 100,000 visitors per hour for three days. About ten million people saw this page.
  • A year later, more media wrote about this page, which produced another traffic spike.
  • Finally, several years later, another company bought the spokespuppet and launched a new ad campaign ("Everyone deserves a second chance"). This page was included in their PR launch.
  • Marc Andreesen's secretary called to send her condolences. Mark was "busy" and couldn't attend. Bill Gates said "I told you that web stuff wasn't going to last. Buy more Windows."

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