It was only a matter of time before Europe's dot-com poster children rose from the ashes of their worthless stock options and made another grab at fame and fortune. Just as books like "Burn Rate" and films like "Startup.com" chronicled the bursting of America's high-tech bubble, Europe's own dot-com demise has spawned a slew of inside tell-alls this fall.
At the center of it all are the infamous boo.com founders, Ernst Malmsten and Kajsa Leander. They are coming out with a book, for which their agent is busy selling film rights. Set for release on Nov. 1, "boo hoo: a dot.com story from Concept to Catastrophe" will tell the tale of the "revolutionary, glamorous, and staggeringly ambitious" online retailer. But will it tell how the photogenic founders of the failed site (valued at $390 million before it was even up and running) managed to blow through $100 million within a year? On the off chance it doesn't, journalist Gunnar Lindstedt looks at boo.com in his book, coming out Oct. 23 in Swedish (the juicy details should warrant a translation). Lindstedt's main source was Patrik Hedelin, the little-known third founder of boo.com who was later pushed out. Malmsten and Leander, Lindstedt says, spent the money on flashy hotels, PR agents, champagne parties and the Concorde. He also paints Leander as a high-tech Lady Macbeth, pulling the strings on Malmsten, her former lover. "She left him, and that was a problem," says Lindstedt. "Ernst was still in love with her, and she could manipulate him."
None of boo.com's founders come off well in "dot.bomb: The Rise & Fall of Dot.Com Britain," published last week. In it, BBC correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones gives the broad story of companies like boo, lastminute.com, First Tuesday and QXL. He also tells how the dot-com roller coaster increased the number of individual shareholders in Britain but failed to change the old establishment business culture.
Rana Foroohar PHONES Trash TalkingChattering to friends is one of the mobile phone's killer apps, but frivolity has reached new heights with the disposable cell phone. You buy it with a prepaid number of minutes, and when you're done you toss it in the trash. The phones are just a folded piece of paper with electronic circuitry printed on the surface; others are plastic. They made a sensation with their debut last summer in Italy, the chat capital of the world. Since the phones don't require a contract, callers don't leave a trace--a key selling point (and a security concern). Who wants them? "Mostly people having affairs and stalkers," says Italian radio.
Barbie Nadeau HOT PROPERTY Here's the CDJWith the advent of the CD, vinyl records are a thing of the past. That's a major problem for DJs, who over the last two decades have turned mixing and "scratching" into an art form. Several companies have devices that allow music from CDs to be mixed as it would be on a turntable, without much success. Pioneer hopes to change that with the CDJ-1000. The device records songs from a CD to its memory buffer, allowing users to cue up, stop, backspin and scratch songs just as they would on a turntable. The CDJ-1000 is good enough to make people like Jazzy Jeff curious. Purists may still prefer vinyl, but now today's DJs have a better chance of finding that perfect beat. More Digital-Imaging OptionsInk-jet printers, it turns out, aren't a great way to make paper copies of digital photos. Two new devices may have a better answer. Over the summer Canon introduced its CP-10 digital-photo printer ($299). It allows Canon digital-camera owners to make sharp two-by-three-inch color pictures, going directly from the camera to the palmsize printer. In October Sony is bringing out a similar product, its DPP-MP1 printer ($280), which churns out crisp photos the size of business cards. It can read Sony's proprietary Memory Stick media cards or print photos from non-Sony cameras that have been fed through a PC first. For bulk prints, these devices aren't practical, considering that Sony's paper-and-cartridge refill pack costs $20 for 24 sheets. On the other hand, instant gratification never looked so good.