What Once Was New
As the new year slipped into memory, two transactions may provide the footnote on the hyped expectations that accompanied the last decade. First is Friendster. The pioneer social networking company and Facebook’s predecessor, Friendster had lost virtually all of its US market share to MySpace and Facebook. Friendster was even profiled as “once the hottest start-up in America, [it then] became the butt of a business joke.” Despite the demise in the US and Europe, the company remained strong in Asia and was acquired by the Malaysian company MOL Global.
Secondly, the Seqway scooter, a product that was once heralded by John Doerr as potentially a bigger innovation than the internet itself and raised over $175 million in venture capital was quietly sold on Christmas Eve. The Seqway — a personal electric scooter — was acquired by a company in the UK. Press reports state that from the product introduction in December of 2001, through March of 2009, only 50,000 were actually sold.
Financial details of both transactions, as they say, were not disclosed. This is the way expectations crash, not with a bang but with a whimper.