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Long live the Internet

October 08, 2002

Editor's Note: Tim Rowland is on vacation. While he's away, favorite columns from the past will run on Tuesdays and Thursdays in The Morning Herald. This column first ran March 13, 2000.

My friend Mark and I are Old School. We believe in the value of earning an honest dollar, provided we don't have to work for it.

So it's been increasingly difficult for us, two guys who are keenly tuned to the global financial Nets, to watch guys who are even younger and dumber than we tapping into the worldwide wealth through limp-skulled ideas for exploiting the new, electronic economy.

So it was with no small amount of interest when I opened the following e-mail from Mark the other day. He had hit upon a plan:

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"Ever walked out of a movie theater after the late show and seen how they throw out garbage bags full of unsold popcorn? How about a mall pizzeria at closing time? They sell $3 slices for 50 cents and usually end up throwing most of it away.

"To solve this problem, I went ahead and registered the domain names, www.leftoverpizza.com and uneatenpopcorn.com. The idea is to apply the virtual marketplace to the unspoken plagues of uneaten movie popcorn and left-over pizzeria pizza. My sites will link price-conscious lovers of popcorn and pizza (a category estimated by Jupiter Communications to number in the millions) with retailers who would otherwise be throwing the stuff away at the end of the day. This site will literally make money out of trash.

"Are you on board? $10k buys a 15 percent share.

"Keep this hush-hush for the time being.

"Mark"

Instantly, I saw the potential. If some brain-dead hick on eBay can make thousands of dollars selling a Dodge Aries dipstick he claims was autographed by Carl Yastrzemski, the sky must be the limit for an actual product that is in some circles considered edible.

Immediately, I e-mailed Mark:

"On board with popcorn/pizza project. growth potential obvious. accept payment in form of options on new pharmaceutical spinoff that takes human genome science and applies it to latest in interactive leaf-blower technology.

"Leave marketing plan to me. Suggest Web sites be followed up with industry buzz created 24/7 in online movie and retail chatrooms. Ipo should be set for late November in time to finance three Super Bowl advertisements, minimum.

"Thinking along the lines of retro-new wave harpsichord backing up scene with Kent McCord from 'Adam-12' chewing on one end of pizza slice with that chick from 'Gill's Island' (the starlet, not the plain one) chewing on other. Eventually lips meet like the 'Lady and the Tramp' mutts. Must work popcorn in somehow, but logistics uncertain. Please advise."

I was ready to open an account in the Caymans to stockpile our profits, but when I got into the office the next morning, there was a disturbing message from the M-dog:

"No joke. Turns out someone beat me to the leftoverpizza.com idea. Already registered to some chucklehead in California. Web site under construction. Now he's got the first mover advantage."

But if Mark is the brains of the outfit, I am the brawn. Instantly, I mobilized with the assistance of three internationally known hackers who promised to bombard this lame-o's site with trillions of phony "requests." A little tricky, granted, since we're not completely sure what it is that he's offering. But we are in it for the long haul. And if it doesn't work out we're already standing by with Plan B, www.oldmanatthehorsetrackspit.com.

Long live the Internet.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2324, or by e-mail at timr@herald-mail.com.

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