The Spy's Annual New Year's Letter

A Spy in the House of Work

Warmest greetings of the holiday season! Since we can't afford to mail individual holiday cards to all of our friends in the new economy (let's face it -- we can't afford one card for one friend), much less send bottles of hooch to try to get you to bail us out with bags of money, we're sending out this end-of-the-year letter to toast the year we've all had.

And what a year it's been! We kicked off 2000 in style. We thought, "What the heck. You wanna see burn rate? We'll show you real burn rate!" Did anyone catch our Super Bowl ad? No? That's exactly what our research showed. Whoa! $73,000 a sec to find out that people really do use the commercial breaks to go to the john.

In February, we cancelled our IPO and moved back into Spud's garage. Luckily, we had all those cans of SpaghettiOs left over from the Y2K non-event of the millennium. Ah, March! Those were heady days: When the email came from AOL and Time Warner, pleading with us to join in those "m"-word talks, we could all feel our imaginary options starting to swell. Steve, Bob, and Gere were worried that their shops lacked the proper Net cred. Would we please consider joining them in their bid to rule the world -- er, create a media empire for the new millennium? We told 'em the same thing we told Chairman Bill: If you try to play monopoly, you might just go to jail.

Speaking of Chairman Bill, or should we say ex-Chairman Bill, while he didn't take our advice on how to handle the DOJ, he did jettison those aviator glasses. At least it was a good year for fashion.

April brought two new moves. First, to our new office space -- a nifty spot under a bridge. Second, we all rushed to the ER to visit Spud after NASDAQ did its own bridge dive. No, it wasn't a heart attack -- just a panic attack. We counted our blessings -- along with our worthless options.

While we're counting our blessings, it's time to say some: Bye-bye to boo.com, Pop.com, RedRocket.com, and Toysmart.com. Easy dotcom, easy dotgo.

Kozmo.com and Petstore.com weren't the only ones to suffer from layoffs this year. We had to say good-bye to Gig, the office cat, a gift from Meggie Whitman. She wouldn't eat the SpaghettiOs (Gig, not Meg), and she came down with one of those feline ailments that require daily injections. In the end, Giggy bit.

In May, our in-house goofball, Darth, was a guest at the prestigious "Delinquents in Software" conference in Nimes, France. On his way home, he dropped in at the Arc de Triomphe offices of Vivendi to practice his French on Jean-Marie Messier: "Bonjour, Monsieur Messier. Quel bon à rien!" ("Hello, Mr. Messier. What a loser!")

Then in June, we hit Silly Valley to spend some time with our VC. A lovely trip -- except for our swing through the San Jose airport. Frankly, the sight of our former CTO loading bags with the other free-agent skycaps was a little unsettling.

Independence Day took on a new meaning, with dotcom layoffs sending folks to join us under the bridge. Spent the day with some of the old gang: Jeffy Bezos, for one. Amazon stock down 66%, but what a guy! He's still willing to hand-deliver our new Widespread Panic CD.

Stopped in London on our way to France to bail Darth out of jail -- saw Anita "Wild Woman" Roddick. Was she agitated! Should she stick with producing seaweed bath gel or give it up to overthrow the WTO? Our advice: Follow your heart, Neety!

Fall is a time of change -- time for us to bid our friends at Pseudo.com adieu. And to pull our IPO again. What a crazy world, filled with pluses and minuses, and minuses, and minuses.

Which brings us to December. We're back to burning our stock options to keep warm, and the fire's almost out. Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Jolly Kwanza, Groovy Winter Solstice. Hope this finds you and your company happy, healthy, and still listed.

This is the latest episode in The Spy's continuing saga, "Working Behind Enemy Lines." You can find the entire Spy chronicles on the Web (www.askthespy.com).

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