I Was Never a Dot-Com, and Other Tales From The Front Lines

By Deborah Gage  |  Posted 2001-04-30

None of us in the media has been totally successful at predicting which startups will succeed, especially recently during the reign of the dot-coms. But this is the first time Ive received an apology from a company I wrote about that failed.

Tom Robinson was the CEO of Gizmo.com, an online exchange for the disposal of surplus technology equipment, when that company vanished late last year. I first wrote about Gizmo last May.

"Its important to me that you know we believed all along in the value of our business, and that we never at any point thought that we were in a position to go away when talking with you," Robinson writes. "Like so many others, we had a significant commitment in financing that disappeared at the eleventh hour. Within days everything was gone, and so were we. … I believed in what we were doing, that we were not another dot-com with vaporware as a model. …[But] we werent a survivor, and as a result, you may have suffered some embarrassment. I hope you didnt, and if you did, Im sorry and [hope] that there are no hard feelings."

No problem, Tom. As reader Dennis Jugan, an information security consultant, notes, no one could have embarrassed the media more than we embarrassed ourselves. Jugan wrote in twice about our "Internet Armageddon?" cover story, which detailed holes in the Internets infrastructure, and says a good time to pull all this information together would have been 1994.

He describes the bubble created by euphoric investors, venture capitalists and marketeers, while through it all, the Internet has remained "true to its original protocols, lacking security and covered with bandages."

"Too bad," he writes. "We could have done much better."

In that spirit, I will go out on a limb once again and write about Schema, a company that had trouble getting funding until this year when dot-coms fell out of fashion. Schema recently closed a third round of $25.7 million. But Ill run out of space before I finish the story, so youll have to return in two weeks for the rest.

I will give you some background, though. Schema was founded in 1994 by Israeli mathematician Yuval Davidor, Ph.D., who developed algorithms capable of solving problems that others regard as intractable.

Over the years, Davidor applied his work to different industries and spun off new companies. The same algorithm can calculate the best way to load boxes into containerships or subdivide the limited spectrum available to wireless carriers.

What is most striking about Davidor, however, is his humility—a quality that has led him to create a company with a bright future despite its insistence on turning away business that will do harm. Next time, Ill tell you how.

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