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Culture

The year in rewind: It wasn't too kind

'Twas the night before Christmas, and drunk at their trough, were the e-commerce reindeer who'd just been laid off.

    'Twas the night before Christmas, and drunk at their trough
    Were the e-commerce reindeer, who'd just been laid off.

    These unemployed beasts were aggrieved with just cause
    For their boss had not faced them, and sent Mrs. Claus

    To dispatch the bad news, that holiday orders
    Had failed to live up to previous quarters

    And Santa was praying to God up in Heaven
    He wouldn't be filing for Chapter 11.

    The Mrs. consoled them with bright reassurance--
    They'd get two weeks' pay and their COBRA insurance.

    But nothing succeeded in lifting their gloom
    For who could deny that the Internet boom

    Had come to a dismal and miserable pop
    If layoffs had reached Santa's sleigh and workshop?

    And E-Blitzen told them, in case they'd forgot
    All the pain and destruction the past year had wrought

    On giant and start-up, on portal and vortal,
    E-commerce and content plays, once thought immortal

    And B2B start-ups, that sudden profusion
    Of Web sites all under the self-same delusion--

    That bounteous financial gratification
    Was soon to be theirs, not the cruel decimation

    They suffered post-haste at the hands of the press
    With Wall Street so quick to compound their distress.

    Like chipmakers, auctions, delivery sites,
    E-toy stores and pet stores, annoying Evite,

    The once-prized Web properties, maimed or defunct,
    The bold New Economy theories debunked.

    Irrational exuberance now at an end
    And long-ailing skeptics at last on the mend

    Waving lists of the wounded too long to recite
    From Priceline to Amazon, Qwest and Excite--

    With Drkoop calling in sick every day
    And WebMD summoning Dr. Bombay

    To come right away! The prognosis was grim!
    They'd been drinking elixirs by Witch Doctor Jim.

    (The "New, New Thing" entrepreneur was thought
    To have been in Tahiti, debugging his yacht.)

    Then warnings from Intel and Apple on earnings,
    Excited the stock market's plunges and churnings--

    And they were just wounded, so how 'bout the dead?
    The dreams that were born and then died in the red.

    Oh, start-up life, nasty and brutish and short!
    The get-rich-quick scheme they were doomed to abort,

    The all-nighters and work on the weekends--in vain!
    Through ulcer and panic attack and migraine--

    It all went for naught for the dot-com named Boo
    For Toysmart, MyLacky, Foofoo and Kibu.

    And Furniture crashed like a two-legged stool
    While Babytime got wiped away with its drool

    This year saw the last of ill-starred Productopia
    And Eve sent to Garden.com's Net dystopia

    O year! which began with our hopes fully ripe,
    When Y2K proved just a bundle of hype--

    Then something went rotten that cruel month in spring
    When Microsoft's fat lady warmed up to sing.

    But courtroom and stock market woes were not all
    That cast on 2000 a sickening pall:

    Poor Intel kept stumbling over its chips:
    Recalls, cancellations and production dips.

    The Love Bug, hacked credit cards, DDoS
    The manhunt for authors of DeCSS,

    The Emulex stock hoax on Internet Wire
    The Netscape 6 rollout with four punctured tires,

    Cracks in the Apple Cube, Napster on ice,
    Livelihoods lost with the roll of the dice.

    Executive exits became a stampede
    As Gates gave to Ballmer the reins to his steed

    As Halsey and Kim left with nary a tear
    And Larry sent Ray with a boot in the rear.

    And before 3Com's Benhamou got very far
    We knew that most people had sex in their car.

    So 2000 comes to its gloom-and-doom close
    With fortunes erased and the Net in the throes

    Of a full-blown hellacious reality check:
    That profitability counts in high-tech.

    Thus was the message E-Blitzen decreed
    To the e-commerce reindeer. He wished them Godspeed

    To the party for reindeer and elves with pink slips,
    Where none had but words of good cheer on their lips

    For all knew the future, while maybe adverse,
    Could hardly turn out to be very much worse

    Than this two-thousandth year, oh! this execrable year
    That grounded the fearsome e-commerce reindeer.

    So I say to you all, both at home and abroad,
    From Vermel, Ammonia and Grandma DuBaud

    And Jai Pegue and Trixie, the whole Rumor Mill
    That though we're all feeling a little bit ill

    One thing's sure to bolster our moods and our humors
    That's gossip, of course. So send us your rumors.