Monday, 11 July 2011

Dot.Doom Fever - A historical story.

One long hot summer, when the internet was still in its infancy, an epidemic swept through Planet Wonga, where I once lived. This is the story of that time.

During the outbreak, previously rational people, myself included, caught a debilitating illness called Dot.Doom fever. Even though the fever was contagious, there were no physical symptoms and the fever could only be diagnosed by observing the symptoms of irrational behaviour and delusions that infected people displayed. Although not everyone caught the illness, every sector of society was affected: from doctors to cab drivers, hair dressers to solicitors, office workers to architects.

Prior to the epidemic, people used to go about their usual business of building houses in a slow and controlled manner: first the foundations, then the walls, followed by the roof and, finally, the additional luxuries like roof gardens and hot tubs.

One of the most pernicious effects of the Dot.Doom fever was that, in the early days, it made people feel like Masters of the Universe and every house they touched seemed to turn to gold. As you can guess, people started building more and more houses. Some of the afflicted even borrowed Wongatons, the currency of Planet Wonga, to build or buy more houses.

Those that were not infected looked on bemused and tried to warn the infected to visit a competent head doctor. Those that were infected, thought the uninfected were a bunch of naysayers who couldn't spot a good deal if it landed on their head.

Unfortunately, one of the symptoms of Dot.Doom fever was the compulsion to build houses with no walls, foundations or rooves. Imagine that!

At the time, believe it or not, people had houses consisting of nothing but things like a roof garden, a shed and a hot tub! But it was warm and sunny and life was good - the affected ceased caring about boring things like foundations and walls. Style over substance was definitely the order of the day.

The manufacturers of these style items did a roaring trade. People clamoured after their hot tubs, roof gardens etc. More manufacturers sprung up but they still couldn't fill the appetite of their style hungry consumers. Some people even started selling their style items to each other at a much inflated price.

After some time, the chilly winds of winter blew into Planet Wonga. The roof gardens collapsed like a house of cards, the outdoor hot tubs were unusable and the flimsy sheds crumpled under the force of the winds. The weather turned nasty and for some reason, this cold weather, caused the afflicted to be hit by an unwelcome dose of clarity.

Suddenly, people were trying to sell their hot tubs, roof gardens and summer sheds but no-one wanted to buy them. The market collapsed like jelly in an earthquake.

Personally, I had bought a variety of style items from companies such as e-capital, datrontech, electronics boutique, rage software and prime entertainment. If you have never heard of these companies before, it is probably because they died along with the Dot.Doom fever. When people suddenly recovered, reality bit hard: to be a proper company, one had to have more than just a good story and a passing interest in the internet.

Most people recovered and whilst having lost a few pounds through illness, many seemed a little wiser for having lived through the ordeal.

Luckily, this happened in the early days of my investing journey and having gone through it, it may have slightly shortened the length of my life but the width it gave me was unsurpassed. Had I not watched a couple of grand gurgle down the drain in the early years, I doubt I would have learned the lessons I did.

At the time, it was a pretty miserable experience but now, in the fullness of time, I look back at Dot.Doom fever with a certain fondness - like a firm but fair teacher.

Success gives confidence, failure brings lessons and wisdom.


This story would never happen on Earth. People here are much to sensible for that.