We all hear the stories of tech companies coming out of thin air and making it huge and we’ve all day dreamed about what if we could have foreseen the future? What if we had thought up the concept of Facebook or Uber? Or what if in 1993, we knew that today more people would watch TV online than on their TV set? But we only seem to read about the massive success stories. What about the failures and the missed opportunities? Do you remember when Yahoo turned down buying Google for $1 million because it was way too expensive?!
Imagine that it is 1993 and you have been given a crystal ball to see the future of the Internet. What would you do?
Here’s my story of just that. I hope you find it hilarious!
It was around the year ninety-three, when one hot California day, an ultra-shinny red sports car pulled into the rustic dirt drive at my ranch office. In a cloud of dust, out stepped Calvin in full suit and newly shinned black shoes. I knew Calvin as the owner of a very successful phone sex biz. He was a shrewd businessman and had made a fortune in the audiotext business. I’d get regular visits from his staff to license my images for his phone ads, this time he was here himself for something very different.
“I wanna buy photos for this brand-new thing they’re calling the
WORLD WIDE WEB.”
I had heard of some new “Bulletin Board” thing on the computer. Someone else had contacted me recently about a fan site with my cheesy B movie acting pics. I was a little miffed at the fact that guys seemed to be sharing images of me and I wasn’t involved in collecting any money out of it and my wheels had already been turning on how this could somehow turn a profit.
Calvin explained excitedly about what this new “Internet” thing was and how there could be thousands of people looking at these places called “domains” and how he wanted to make some of these domains with sexy photos. He was convinced this thing was going to be massive.
He wanted me to license him some new rights no one had ever heard of;
THE RIGHTS TO USE IMAGES ON THE INTERNET
I offered to license him images at the same rate as the phone pics.
“I’ll take five hundred.”
So convinced was he about this new internet thing, he chose five hundred pics and left me with a whopping big check!!!
I was not technically savvy at all. Couldn’t even type a letter; I had a secretary I relied heavily on for that. But I was intrigued to know why this man would invest so much. He had made millions before and it wasn’t on bad decisions. I had my secretary look up these things called “domains,” and soon discovered, you could get one of these for about fifty dollars. I started to dream about what this could mean if computers could be connected all over the world. Not only for sharing and looking at sexy pictures but everything, the incredible things that could be possible. And if this was true, and ultimately, we’d all be talking over computers, like Calvin said, what other kinds of services might be on there?
I made a list of potential names for “website” domains that might be useful in the future if this really happened. I gave the list to my secretary to try to figure out how we would go about registering these things. There were a hundred names on my list. Some sexual yes, but also general things that might be useful. All were available: Boobs .com
Girls .com but also Cars .com, Flights .com, Movies .com, Tickets .com, Books .com, NewYork . com ....all were available!!! At that point you could’ve registered Coca Cola .com (I thought probably would not be wise, but you could!) Sex . com had just been taken, everything else was up for grabs and low hanging fruit, ripe for the picking.
I went to run it by my husband and showed him my one hundred wish list.
“I want to invest in this. I want to buy these names. They are fifty dollars each. The entire investment is five thousand.”
My husband went ballistic!
“You are stupid, stupid, stupid!!!” he snorted in the middle of my office in front of all my employees.
This was a huge argument. I wanted to invest five thousand dollars, a pittance really.
Of all the times I’d been right, all the times I had that sixth sense, but no, I was still the one that was “Stupid!” He knew about computers, I knew nothing! I didn’t even know how to turn one on (yeah true actually).
He went on…
“This is a ridiculous idea, something like that could never work, it would take massive infrastructure. It would just crash. I know! DOS rules! No! Forget it! It will never work…oh… AND…. it’s STUPID!”
It was a huge sore point between us for several weeks as I tried to convince him, but he wouldn’t budge. I finally backed down. After all he was right, I didn’t know about computers like he did and perhaps I was “stupid” when it came to that.
Several years later after we got divorced and the dot com boom was in full swing, my assistant Ken found my old list and hung it on the wall, titled “The Thirty-Five Million Dollar Stupid! Stupid! Stupid! List.” As each domain sold my staff would cross it off the list and write the amount next to it …
Cars .com$2.2 million.
Flights .com $1.8 million.
Movies .com $3 million
This was my “Sick to my Stomach List.”