Wall Street Journal Suggests Internet Is Dead

July 19, 2009

The addled goose is not certain if the story “The Internet Is Dead (As An Investment)” will be online without a charge when you click the link. Newspapers fascinate me. Some of their information is free; some transient; and some available for hard cash.

What I find useful to follow are stories that make it clear that certain business sectors are “dead”. In Heathrow on Friday, June 17, 2009, I received a free Daily Telegraph when I bought a nut and granola bar. I did not want a newspaper because my Boingo connection was alive. Even though the Daily Telegraph was a svelte bundle of paper, the news was old. Free “yesterday” was not compelling. The argument in James Altucher’s wealth column is that utilities like electricity and the Internet are linked in this way:

Electricity greatly improved our quality of life. But I’m not going to get excited about buying a basket of utility companies. Same for the Internet. Can’t live without it, but can’t live with it (in my portfolio).

I recall reading a business monograph The Mind Of The Strategist: The Art of Japanese Business by Kenichi Ohmae. Now more than a decade old, I recall the case analysis of the bulk chemical business. I wonder if that discussion of an uninteresting, commodity business holds some truths for Mr. Altucher and newspapers thinking along the same lines as the Wall Street Journal. The Daily Telegraph may benefit as well. There were many discarded Telegraphs in the lounge at Heathrow. Online economics requires a recalibration of some business yardsticks. Is Internet investment dead like the company who hit the jackpot with bulk chemicals? Glittering generalities are useful but may reveal more about the thinking of a newspaper’s editorial team beliefs, not the opportunities utilities and commodities represent.

Stephen Arnold, July 19, 2009


2 Responses to “Wall Street Journal Suggests Internet Is Dead”

  1. sperky undernet on July 19th, 2009 10:04 am

    The WSJ article seems a cannabalized form of the recent article (July 10) by Douglas Rushkoff, “How the Tech Boom Terminated California’s Economy”
    which is a feeler for his new book Life Inc. How the World Became a Corporation and How to Take It Back http://lifeincorporated.net/about.html
    The point as I understand it is that it is investment and the institutions supporting it that have failed and that it is the internet that will be part of the mix that will become an important part of our economic future. Rushkoff would say that utilities and commodities lost value when the corporations wrote the rules, controlled the game and co-opted world wealth from the wealth of individuals and guilds into their own idea of the market which they and their proxies like the US Chamber of Commerce now post-mortem try to market anew as green shoots instead of the non-compost-ready shit that it is.

    The recalibration can start with this, from the Rushkoff article cited above:

    “The banking crisis began with the dot.com industry, because here was a business sector that did not require massive investments of capital in order to grow. (I spent an entire night on the phone with one young entrepreneur who secured $20 million of capital from a venture firm, trying to figure out how to possibly spend it. We could only come up with $2 million of possible expenditures.) What’s a bank to do when its money is no longer needed? Especially when contraction is not an option?”

    The reality is disintermediating the already-self-dintermediated financial industry among others by creating value between partners. The new business yardstick can be considered to be the benefits of empowerment. We need to figure how this works so that those who can can work again.

  2. Bill Bartmann on September 3rd, 2009 4:18 pm

    Cool site, love the info.

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