E-conjob Productions is proud to present Survivor: The New Economy, the show that puts the "reality" into reality TV. Our motto: You want survival? Hoo-ha, we'll show you survival! Try surviving a global recession.
In case you missed the first episode of Survivor: The New Economy, William (Bill) Gates III, 45, a software programmer from Seattle, was voted off the iLand when Tribe IPO lost the first immunity challenge, playing Twister on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.
It was a coup for the alliance led by Jeff Bezos, 37, the crafty Honda-driving bookseller who, with his genius for creating strategic allegiances (who would have believed that Courtney Love, 34, singer and "actress" from Los Angeles, would cast her vote with Jeff instead of with neocommunist boy toy Shawn Fanning, who, as of this writing, is still unable to buy beer legally?), felt that Bill had a negative attitude. "Sure, there was that little DOJ thing," Jeff chirped, "but what's he so mopey about? Amazon, for example, has never been in better shape."
Then, in last week's challenge (eating three-week-old Krispy Kremes), "Everyone's Mom," Meg Whitman, 44, a Pez-dispenser aficionada from San Jose, was voted off by loser Tribe URL. "It has nothing to do with the fact that I'm watching my cholesterol and refused to eat the Krispy Kremes," Whitman said in her farewell address to the iLand. "My company is a real business — and they despise me for it."
The barefoot eccentric Jerry Yang, 32, compulsive indexer, of Santa Clara, led the charge against Meg, aided by cheerful wackadoo Steve Jobs, 46, an evangelical minister, who is also from California. Said Jerry: "Meg's a doll, but she's too eager to please."
Fellow tribe member Cindy Crawford, 35, New Yorker and mother of one, who spoke off the record, felt that Jerry had it in for Meg "because she caved on that whole swastika thing, while he held out against the entire French government."
More shocking than the ouster of Everyone's Mom was that Julie Wainwright — heck, who knows how old she is or what she does? All you need to know is one word: "Pets.com" — has lasted this long.
Now for this week's show! The immunity challenge pits Tribe IPO against Tribe URL in the show's defining test: Increase market share and demonstrate profitability.
"Demonstrate profitability?" Shawn asks. "What's, like, that mean? Don't I have enough headaches?"
"I'm opting out," Courtney says. "I've got the backing of the Jeff alliance, and who even knows what the %&!*@ profitability is?"
"This is not a real challenge," Jeff pipes up. "Amazon has never been in better shape. Therefore, we win the challenge."
"The only reason that I vote with Jeffrey," Cindy explains, "is because he's promised me free shipping and a spill-proof coffee mug."
"Where's your proof?" asks Jerry. "I presume we have to show proof. Since I don't have any myself, I'm opting out too."
Steve punches the sky. "I'm not opting out! I'm thinking different! I'm voting myself off the iLand! What ever happened to, like, vision? Since when have we all become so interested in money?"
"I know that one," says Julie. "Maybe since we ran out of it?"
Stay tuned for the next episode of Survivor: The New Economy. Will the Jeff alliance oust Shawn, who made the mistake of refusing the free shipping? Can Steve come back from voting himself off the Land to take over the whole show? And remember: Unlike that other Survivor, this one really is about surviving. We show you the one thing that's worse than being cold and unable to make a fire: having to fire 800 people and send them into the cold.
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
A version of this article appeared in the May 2001 issue of Fast Company magazine.