When I slapped the brochure for Penton Medias ISPCon/ASPCon/Last Mile trade show on the family dinner table, my wife looked at the front page with an expression of mild interest: "The Last Mile Show. Is that for companies about to go bankrupt?" she asked.
First, I laughed hysterically, then I realized she was right. The Last Mile Show used to be called CLEC Expo. But then I started thinking: Why not do a show for companies about to go bankrupt?
The lead story in this weeks Infrastructure section talks about corporations overprovisioning their Internet access pipes to the point where they are using only 30 percent of the communications infrastructure they are paying millions of dollars to maintain. The only plausible explanation for this phenomenon is that the explosion of Internet traffic on which backbone operators, communications carriers and enterprises have been counting just hasnt happened. Backbones are empty, smaller carriers overbought bandwidth for the boom that never happened and companies are trying to shut down the pipes they dont need.
At press time, WorldComs UUnet unit still hadnt said whether it continues to spend $1 million per day to grow its backbone. Given that capital expenditures are being cut industrywide, I have a suspicion it is not.
So, what we are looking at is an industry in which a lot of people maxed out their credit cards, assured of a large Christmas bonus that never came. We have already seen our share of bankruptcies. PSINet was the first large player to fall, followed by Winstar Communications, Metricom, Exodus Communications, Colo.com, NetRail and 360Networks. The list is long already, and I dont think weve seen the end.
As absurd as it sounds, the need for a bankruptcy trade show is real. Companies about to go belly-up could use some good advice from law firms that specialize in dealing with bankruptcy courts. They could tap specialty financial firms selling off individual assets. They could spin the news with the help of crisis communications firms.
Hell, you could make good money from a trade show like that. Hey Penton! Stop pitching this ISP business model. Its time to tap into a more mainstream business audience.