Startup.com
Seemed like a good idea at the time...
dir Chris Hegedus, Jean Noujaim
with Kaleil Isaza Tuzman, Tom Herman, Maynard Jackson, Kenneth Austin, Tricia Burke, Roy Burston, Jose Feliciano, Dora Glottman, Julian Herbstein, Christina Ortez, Chien Cheung, Bill Clinton
release US 11.May.01; UK 7.Sep.01
Artisan
01/US 1h13

3 out of 5 stars
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E
This up-to-the-minute documentary traces the rise and fall of a commercial website from the bright spark of a money-making idea to the harsh realities of the new economy. Fortunately, it has a human story at the centre to keep even us non-business types interested. Kaleil Isaza Tuzman and Tom Herman were in school together and now in their mid-20s are launching govworks.com, a website that gives the public easy access to local government services. Great idea, loads of cash to be made. But despite millions of dollars in investment and a peak staff of 250, a combination of factors make the whole thing fall to bits in less than 18 months.

The filmmakers wisely keep the focus on these two men, and their relationship provides the humanity that draws us in, while all the money talk leaves us completely cold. And interestingly, it's in this relationship that the company's real problems lie, as neither is willing to let the other be the boss. As their real goal is to make millions--as opposed to serving their customers--this brings other issues into play that undermine things from within long before the economic downturn actually causes the company's collapse. It's very intriguing, and filmed with a startling intimacy; scenes are shot in bedrooms, gyms and even bathrooms, touching on relationships with girlfriends, parents and children. Isaza Tuzman and Herman are very likeable guys who allow us to see their stubborn, difficult sides in all their glory. All of this makes the film thoroughly engaging, even if the dot-com subject matter itself isn't terribly compelling.
language cert 15 30.Aug.01

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