If you want to see an entertaining documentary about the rise and fall of a dot-com (GovWorks.com), and you have Showtime, set your DVR to record Startup.com tomorrow at 9:45am on Showtime's Showcase channel. I first saw the film a few years ago, and I'm looking forward to watching the whole thing again. One (out out of many) entertaining moments occurs when the GovWorks principals walk out of a meeting with Kleiner Perkins -- the storied venture capital firm that backed Google and Genentech among other companies -- and one of the twenty-something GovWorks employees says of the Kleiner Perkins partner they just met, "That guy just doesn't get it".
The GovWorks story reminds me of Aaron Edelheit's point in a post last month ("Thinking of Investing in China?") that "Sometimes large economic trends do not make great investments". The GovWorks founders were clearly ahead of the curve on a trend: the trend of individuals paying parking tickets and otherwise interacting with local governments online. The question they may not have considered was why the local governments would need to rely on the private sector to provide this sort of service for them. Here in the wilds of New Jersey, for example, the state has its own website where you can pay parking tickets online.