Where Have All the Dot-Coms Gone?

Tracking politics as it's practiced on the Web.
Aug. 3 2000 3:00 AM

Where Have All the Dot-Coms Gone?

34000_34651_islogo_130x20
Washington Post Online

Slate, the Industry Standard, and washingtonpost.com join forces to examine the effect of the Internet on Campaign 2000.

PHILADELPHIA—This Republican National Convention may yet go down in history as the first "e-convention." E-commerce companies, however, seem to have forgotten about this particular party.

Advertisement

Not surprisingly at an event where the press far outnumber the actual political participants, Internet media and politically oriented Web sites such as Grassroots.com and Web White & Blue abound. There's also a smattering of politically oriented application service providers showing the flag and working the media horde outside the convention site. But apart from random sightings of executives from America Online (Steve Case is here as the proud father of his AOL skybox), Excite@Home, and eBay—all of which are deliberately keeping a low profile—commercial dot-coms are confining themselves to donating money, throwing receptions, and quietly circulating among the delegates.

One exception is Raul Fernandez, founder of Proxicom, an 1,100-employee Internet consulting company in Reston, Va. He is scheduled to give a speech Wednesday night on the convention floor. Fernandez was also part of the contingent that officially welcomed George W. Bush to Philadelphia on Wednesday morning at the "Un Nuevo Día" reception at the city's Museum of Art. Fernandez was also a personal sponsor of Wednesday's RNC Lunch Gala.

"If there's one thing that the last few years and the Microsoft trial has taught us, it's that you have to be engaged in politics and policy," Fernandez says. He was careful to add, however, that he was in Philadelphia representing himself rather than Proxicom. On Wednesday night, Fernandez plans to tell the convention the story of how the Internet made it possible for a son of immigrants to start a company that now has a market capitalization of more than $2 billion.

By midweek, the award for most ostentatious e-commerce presence went to govWorks, a government-to-consumer electronic middleman that processes payments for utilities, parking tickets, and property taxes for state and local governments across the country.

"We wanted the opportunity to talk to elected officials about this," says govWorks spokesman Christopher Fenyo. "Their constituents are really asking for this."

But Fenyo was making do with a tiny table at "PoliticalFest" in the Philadelphia Convention Center, miles away from the GOP's ground zero at the Comcast First Union Center. The govWorks outpost was tacked on to an outfit peddling convention photographs. Fenyo's computer monitor was on the fritz, and he had trouble accessing the govWorks site on his laptop. And the elected officials that Fenyo wanted to reach were apparently occupied elsewhere at lunches and receptions.

The e-commerce display runner-up award goes to Half.com, which placed an advertisement on the side of a truck trailer parked among some weeds in the industrial wasteland near the Comcast Center.

That's not to say there's no Internet economy money flowing into Philadelphia. Microsoft, Verizon, and AT&T each donated $1 million in cash, goods, or services, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. But there are no Microsoft advertisements, no canvas bags filled with worthless knickknacks, no phalanx of corporate public relations minions bending ears. There's a dot-com presence in Philadelphia, but it's very subtle and low-key—if you don't count the Lynyrd Skynyrd concert that the online fund-raising firm eContributor.com hosted Monday night.

TODAY IN SLATE

Medical Examiner

Here’s Where We Stand With Ebola

Even experienced international disaster responders are shocked at how bad it’s gotten.

Why Are Lighter-Skinned Latinos and Asians More Likely to Vote Republican?

A Woman Who Escaped the Extreme Babymaking Christian Fundamentalism of Quiverfull

The XX Factor
Sept. 22 2014 12:29 PM A Woman Who Escaped the Extreme Babymaking Christian Fundamentalism of Quiverfull

Subprime Loans Are Back

And believe it or not, that’s a good thing.

It Is Very Stupid to Compare Hope Solo to Ray Rice

Building a Better Workplace

In Defense of HR

Startups and small businesses shouldn’t skip over a human resources department.

How Ted Cruz and Scott Brown Misunderstand What It Means to Be an American Citizen

Divestment Is Fine but Mostly Symbolic. There’s a Better Way for Universities to Fight Climate Change.

  News & Politics
Politics
Sept. 22 2014 6:30 PM What Does It Mean to Be an American? Ted Cruz and Scott Brown think it’s about ideology. It’s really about culture.
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 22 2014 5:38 PM Apple Won't Shut Down Beats Music After All (But Will Probably Rename It)
  Life
Dear Prudence
Sept. 23 2014 6:00 AM Naked and Afraid Prudie offers advice on whether a young boy should sleep in the same room with his nude grandfather.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 22 2014 7:43 PM Emma Watson Threatened With Nude Photo Leak for Speaking Out About Women's Equality
  Slate Plus
Slate Plus
Sept. 22 2014 1:52 PM Tell Us What You Think About Slate Plus Help us improve our new membership program.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 23 2014 8:46 AM How Men Talk About Relationships in Rom-Coms: While Playing Sports
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 22 2014 6:27 PM Should We All Be Learning How to Type in Virtual Reality?
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 23 2014 7:00 AM I Stand with Emma Watson
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.