German Hot 100

Hopeful project, much stress, something learned: German Hot 100 collected information on German start-ups and VCs. Good while it lasted, terminated when the bubble burst.

Verlagsgruppe Handelsblatt

Website/database developed for a client.
In late 1999 the platform was bought by Verlagsgruppe Handelsblatt/Eocnomy One AG. Two years later we closed shop.

Started: 1998
Ended: 2002

This project was the result of a newsletter on all things internet that I wrote starting in 1997 and sent around randomly to colleagues and people interested in internet trends. The newsletter was pure ASCII, but easy to read. In 1998 there this one phone call: Can you create a newsletter like this for us?

To cut it short: We planned, we launched and three months later Verlagsgruppe Handelsblatt/Economy One AG took over this platform for a considerable sum of money (which went into the newly formed company). 

Which was great. As a journalist who had an idea 12 month before it was quite an experience for me to sit in one room with corporate lawyers doing due diligence and talk about money.

I became CEO and partner in the new venture. There were quite some challenges: First of all, we wanted to create a database about the entire German venture capital market, covering the development of start-ups, trying to show whether they would go bankrupt, taken over or even manage an IPO.

So far for the plans. Reality was that at this particular time we where among the pioneers trying to sell access to such a website to the market. At the peak we had about 700 subscribers and - for a time - quite good visits/pageviews on the open pages of our webpage.

But these where special times and venture capital in Germany was a small market, even at the height of that bubble. 

We worked like hell, trying to overcome the many difficulties launching such a start-up, creating a good database, editing articles. We even re-built the whole CMS to fit our needs. 

Still, the whole thing did not work out. The German Hot 100  turned into the German Cold 100, as most of the start-ups went belly up through 2001 and 2002. 

The company was terminated as a result. Half of the money was left, nobody got hurt. Still it was a roller-coaster ride. 

P.S.: The experience made me really, really careful regarding naming such ventures. Because of the cocky name and as a target in general we became a target of anonymous critics of the whole "New Economy" craziness. They were basically right. Problem was there was no way really sorting things out. Believe me, you never want to become the target of digital attacks. It's not a nice experience.