Even as the first dot-com era entered its extended swan song in the late 1990s, I argued that a lot of the clever ideas that had mostly crashed over the course of that decade would reappear once the Internet became embedded in American life, and people discovered ways of making money from such ventures — as opposed to simply throwing millions at them in the hope they would fly.
And that's exactly what happened recently with one such staple of that seemingly distant era, albeit with the necessary slight adjustment, according to the Feb. 4 New York Times business section. An article titled "Internet-Era Magazine Is Revived to Look at the Future" discussed the reincarnation of The Industry Standard, the former West Coast-based weekly magazine, as an online property.
Reporter Brad Stone explained that earlier this month, International Data Group, a trade-magazine publisher based in Framingham, Mass., restarted "The Industry Standard," but this time, "as an on-line only technology news site with a twist: Readers will be asked to wager virtual money on whether various anticipated news developments and business deals in high-tech are likely to happen."
These "prediction markets" are considered "a way to use the wisdom of crowds to forecast future events, such as who will win the presidential election or the Super Bowl. On sites like the Hollywood Stock Exchange (www. hsx.com), NewsFuture (www.newsfuture. com) and TradeSports (www.tradesports. com), people can bet on the outcomes of films, news and sporting events. The new Industry Standard will extend that model to news about the Internet at www.thestandard.com."
A decade ago, the for-real print version became known both for reporting on the first wave of dot-com hyperbole, as well as for embodying it. It "grew thick with ads from Internet companies and held industry conferences and rooftop networking parties before ads and subscriptions withered in the Internet bust."
According to the Times article, the magazine's parent company, Standard Media International, sought bankruptcy protection in late summer 2001. IDG, a major investor in the company, acquired a number of its assets, including the Web site and brand name.
For six years, it lay dormant, but recently, said Derek Butcher, vice president and general manager of the new Industry Standard, IDG decided to see how much "equity" was left in the brand. "People seemed to have a lot of love and respect for it," Butcher told the Times.
The site, which went live on Feb. 4, will feature short items about high-tech subjects. But the centerpiece will be the predictive market.
"When people register for the site," wrote Stone, "they will receive 100,000 'Standard Dollars,' which they can use to wager on such propositions as 'another company will emerge as a suitor for Yahoo' or 'TiVo will be bought by the end of the year.' "
Wouldn't it be ironic if people bet on other Web sites on the chances this new Industry Standard has to succeed?