2001: When the Internet Was, Um, Over?

2001: When the Internet Was, Um, Over?


It Ain’t Over Till It’s Over: So far, history has proved Mr. Frank half-correct. The Dow Jones index, which had peaked around 17,000 at the height of the ’90s boom, has merely passed 26,000, not 36,000. But the dot-coms, as you might have noticed, did not exactly vanish.

That old apple of Mr. Blodget’s eye, Amazon, which recently became the country’s second trillion dollar company, with a stock price more than four times Mr. Blodget’s once-risible $400 price target. Mr. Blodget himself went on to become a tech mogul, as a founder of the online news site Business Insider (Mr. Wolff, meanwhile, did not exactly disappear either: his explosive book “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House,” became a best seller earlier this year).

But with the wisdom of hindsight, it is clear that 2001 was not the end of internet culture, but rather, the end of the beginning of internet culture. Today’s young tech moguls — like Facebook’s $60 billion man, Mark Zuckerberg — are not only among the richest people in the world, they are also Beyoncé-level stars in the eyes of the starry-eyed postgraduates who flock to tech’s promised land, hoping, like the characters in HBO’s “Silicon Valley,” to carve out their slice of the future.

Hindsight Is 20/20: In fairness to Mr. Schwartz, he hinted that tech might come roaring back, bigger than ever, in 2001. “The dot-commer,” he wrote, “seen today as a scam artist,” might be reborn, “smarter and tougher, because he represents optimism itself.”

When contacted last week about the story, he thanked me for the opportunity to stay humble, but added: “As the story predicted, a new generation of companies has arisen and changed the world since that story ran: It includes Facebook, Twitter, Uber and Theranos.” He continued, “if there’s a lesson in taking a new look at this old story, it has to be to never bet against greed, and never bet on a cultural shift that requires tech companies to grow a conscience.”



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