The year 2000 was not
kind to the young Internet industry. Tech stocks tanked. Fresh capital
for dot-coms dried up. At least 130 online firms died and an estimated
40,000 dot-com workers lost jobs."
Jon Swartz, USA Today, 12/28/2000
As an ailing economy reduces high-flying Internet companies around the
country to bankruptcy, acclaimed documentary team Chris Hegedus, D A
Pennebaker and newcomer Jehane Noujaim take a behind-the-scenes look
at the volatile start-up phenomenon, chronicling the turbulent development
of govWorks.com, an award-winning Internet site that facilitates interaction
between local government, citizens and businesses. Turning a familiar
headline story into a high-pressure personal odyssey, Startup.com follows
the trials of partners Kaleil Isaza Tuzman and Tom Herman, best friends
since childhood, as they progress from being rookies with only a business
plan to assuming the leadership of a nationally recognized Internet
company struggling to survive an inhospitable economy.
With millions of dollars of venture capital at stake, Isaza Tuzman and
Herman wrestle with the growing pains of a new business in the fickle
Internet community, tackling technical difficulties, chartering the
unpredictable venture capitalist waters, and out-smarting copy-cat competition.
In one tense sequence, the partners receive a million offer from a venture
capital firm that they must sign that day, without leaving the office.
There's only one problem: they can't locate their lawyer on the phone.
GovWorks.com even becomes the victim of sabotage when its offices are
broken into and valuable documents, outlining business and marketing
strategies, are stolen. In the end, however, none of these challenges
prepares Isaza Tuzman or Herman for their own conflict over the management
of govWorks.com., a conflict that will not only endanger their company
and their jobs, but will irrevocably alter their lifelong friendship.
Picking up where today's headlines leave off, Startup.com examines the
current troubled state of the Internet revolution, in which inflated
ideals and dreams of instant wealth have been supplanted by harsh economic
realities and broken promises. Graced with sensitive storytelling and
a dynamic, intimate cinéma-vérité style, the film
also manages to personalize this crisis with intensely private views
of the people involved. More than just an insider look at an industry
in flux, Startup.com becomes a deft exploration of friendship and the
conflict between personal and business relationships.
After watching the film,
answer the following questions
1. From what you recall,
did Kaleil and Tom have a formal business plan for GovWorks?
2. What went wrong with their long-term planning?
3. What were the flaws with GovWorkss (a)vision, (b)market analysis,
and (c)competitive analysis?
4. Why were there cash flow problems?
5. Was it a good idea for Kaleil and Tom to be in business together?
Record any changes you make
in the business plan you are creating in class that were motivated by
what you saw in the film.