Movie Viewing: Startup.com

Introduction

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.

Process

As you watch the film Startup.com, think about the following things;

 

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Task

Step One:

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 GovWorks’s (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? Explain.

Step Two:

Record any changes you make in the business plan you are creating in class that were motivated by what you saw in the film.

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Resources

 

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Conclusion

 

 

Evaluation

 

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Updated 10/11/04