Lecturer describes the rise and fall of the Industry Standard

Prominent journalist shares details of Internet experience

In 2000 Jonathan Weber became the founding editor of one of the fastest-growing
magazines in history.

Kellyn Brown
for the Kaimin

In 2001, when the bearings broke on the Internet machine, the "Industry Standard"
crashed and burned with the companies that it covered.

Weber told the story of the Standard’s rise and fall during his lecture, "The Late,
Great Internet Gold Rush," to a crowd of about 100 Monday in the UC Theater.
Weber, the first T. Anthony Pollner Distinguished Professor at the UM School of
Journalism, gave an insider’s take on the biggest speculative frenzy in U.S. history.

The Internet.

When Weber finished showing the Standard’s sales pitch to the audience — the
same sales pitch that he had showed investors when the magazine was young,
predicting multimillion dollar profits through 2001 — he chuckled and said, "Now, as
you know, this wasn’t meant to be."

At its peak the frenzy that surrounded the Standard was buzzing almost as loudly
as the Internet companies that produced billionaires overnight.

It broke advertising records. It put together a staff of cream-of-the-crop business
reporters. It had lavish rooftop parties and the dot-com world would wait to get in.

Every Friday a line of people would wind around the block outside a four-story brick
building in downtown San Francisco, the magazine’s headquarters.

The Standard was hip and rich. At its peak, in 2000, the publication had raked in
$140 million and had total assets that topped $200 million.

Then, in March 2000, the bottom dropped out of the Internet economy. The Nasdaq
fell from 5,000 points to 3,000 points, and the companies that the Standard covered
begin folding. What Weber didn’t know at the time was that his magazine would
eventually follow their lead. It would file Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

"People were pretty optimistic through the summer and fall of 2000," Weber said.

The Standard had a lot to be optimistic about. Advertising was consistent and
Weber was named one of the top editors in the country by the Columbia Journalism
Review a few months earlier.

But when the advertisers started leaving, they left in droves."The speed in the fall-off
in business was very dramatic," Weber said.

In November of 2000, 150 advertisements a week were being run in the Standard.
Three weeks later that number tumbled to 40.

"Suddenly you’re losing a million dollars a week," Weber said.

Other publications in the business were going through the same thing and,
subsequently, were either being bought by larger companies, laying off workers, or
dying altogether.

The rate of job cutting became so fierce that in the middle of 2000 the Standard
replaced its IPO tracker, which stands for the Initial Public Offering of a company to
investors (a sign of growth), with a layoff tracker.

"It was really nasty when we had to put our own layoffs on our layoff tracker," Weber

The technology market that had been growing at an unprecedented pace —

"You could show up (to an investor) with any reasonable sounding plan and if you
had any resume at all you could get cash," Weber said — grounded.

"The first lesson I learned is to have a little common sense about these things,"
Weber said.

As the first T. Anthony Pollner Distinguished Professor, Weber advises the Montana
Kaimin in every aspect of the publication.

He laughed at the idea of it being a humbling experience going from an editor of a
multimillion dollar magazine to adviser at a student newspaper.

"Adviser is different than editor-in-chief," Weber said. "If the editor says this should
happen, it happens. If an adviser says this should happen, maybe it will happen."

The Pollner Fellowship is named for T. Anthony Pollner, a 1999 J-School graduate
who was a Kaimin reporter and Web designer. After Pollner died in a motorcyle
accident last year, his friends and family established the endowment in his honor.

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