It’s hard to believe it’s been 10 years since the dot-com bubble burst. The actual date, March 10,Â passed quietly a few weeks ago. I remember those times as if they were yesterday.
I was a 24-year-old marketing guy at an upstart called Media Metrix, the first Internet media audience ratings firm. I led a team of analysts and communications managers that reported ratings, trends and cultural narratives we surfaced from the ratings data. We had a weekly spot on CNBC to report on the fastest-growing Web sites. We wrote the seminal report that revealed women had surpassed men online, leading to a cover story inÂ USA Today. We reported on the rise of Napster, with the first authoritative data showing that file-sharing was rampant. Our most notorious output was the monthly Top 50 Online Media Properties, a ranking of companies with the highest number of unique visitors to their Web sites.
It was always fun to surface new trends, but the Top 50, alone, would prompt new entrants to do such crazy things as run prominent, celebratoryÂ Wall Street Journal ads. Companies that dropped in, or off, the rankings would protest with extreme force, or go into denial. Henry Blodgett, a prominent Internet analyst at Merrill Lynch, toldÂ The New York Times in 2000, “Media Metrix’s monthly reports definitely move stocks…It’s the closest thing there is to a standard.”
Who ever thought the audience ratings and research business could be so much fun and central to a new growth industry? Well, it got more fun, despite the bursting of the bubble. In June 2000, three months after the burst began, our publicly traded company became Jupiter Media Metrix through a $414 million merger with Jupiter Communications. But after the party, the hangover arrived and things quickly went downhill as our customers struggled through the tech downturn.
A few months later the Federal Trade Commission blocked our biggest competitor, Netratings, from buying us for $71 million. Jupiter Media Metrix then sold the Media Metrix service to comScore for a little more than $1 million.
I was part of comScore’s acquisition and helped the company build the marketing organization, which was a great experience. The other divisions of Jupiter Media Metrix were sold off individually.
Despite the anxiety of the burst, which was exacerbated by 9/11, I learned some important personal and business lessons:
- Don’t take anything for granted, for what you have today may be gone tomorrow. Embrace luck and serendipity when it’s on your side.
- Make good and decisive decisionsÂ on time — don’t be too early or too late. Timing is as critical as execution.
- Be nimble, roll with the punches and learn to get up quickly after you fall. You have the choice to succeed, or be crushed.
- Do good and be consistent because your actions define your reputation — and your reputation follows you everywhere, forever.
- Nurture your work relationships in the best and worst of times, because you’ll probably reunite with many — as colleagues, customers, partners, competitors, advisors or investors. (Indeed, the core Media Metrix team still organizes periodic happy-hour reunions.)
- Keep your cool, because losing it will cause people, including yourself, to lose confidence in you. Losing your cool also leads to health problems.
- Align the purpose of your work with yourself, if you want to be happy and fully invest in yourself.
Where were you on March 10, 2000? How do you remember it? What were your takeaways?
This also was my latest column in MediaPost.
(Photo credit: gaminrey)