Razorfish Still Blowing Dot-Bomb Bubbles - InformationWeek

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Commentary
6/19/2009
05:51 PM
Michael Hickins
Michael Hickins
Commentary
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Razorfish Still Blowing Dot-Bomb Bubbles

While many of us are holding our collective breaths in the hopes that Web 3.0 (or, as Robert Scoble would have it, the 2010 Web) will help drag us out of recession, some remain intent on blowing dot-com-like bubbles.

While many of us are holding our collective breaths in the hopes that Web 3.0 (or, as Robert Scoble would have it, the 2010 Web) will help drag us out of recession, some remain intent on blowing dot-com-like bubbles.We're getting more gas-bagging from the very same blow-hards who tried explaining on 60 Minutes back in 2000 that, "We've asked our clients to recontextualize their business."

Incredibly, the poster child for dot-com bubble-blowing, marketing agency Razorfish is still in business, and they don't seem to have changed one iota.

Razorfish information architect John Pettengill was totally in blow-hard, city-slickered, hype-err-ventilating form while telling an audience "how to save the mobile web."

If you're not aware that the mobile Web is in need of saving, believe me, you're not alone.

But according to Pettengill, "Mobiles fill up our dead time." That's a bad thing.

Instead, he opines, mobile Web sites should "find opportunities outside of the "dead time" in pain points a user faces everyday."

This sounds sadly reminiscent of when Razorfish redefined business strategy as "recontextualization." Brilliant blather from a bona fide blowhard.

You have to ask yourself how people can ever learn from their mistakes if they never own up to them to begin with.

Mark Curtis, currently CEO of mobile apps vendor Flirtomatic, a consultant with British digital consulting firm Fjord, and former Razorfish London managing director, is utterly unapologetic, writing in a forum for mobile app developers that "in 1998 and 1999 ... [Razorfish] did outstanding work and had very happy clients who came back for more... At Razorfish we turned away dot com after dot com as clients as we could see the models were weak and the management naive. We actually did very little dot com work, preferring to focus on more established clients wanting to engage with the internet."

But William Volk, CEO of mobile app vendor Playscreen, is one one victim of the dot-com crash who isn't in a forgiving mood, and would like some kind of virtual restraining order to keep Razorfish away from his current stomping grounds.

"Please tell them to stay away from the mobile web. They were one of the, sorry ... no nice way to put this, eHoles who helped to crash the dot-coms in 2000... Overpaid, Overhyped, and unfortunately Over Here in Mobile."

Razorfish "was a major trigger in the launch of the crash," he added.

Curtis, who sold his company to Razorfish in the late 1990s, called Volk's remarks "cheap, offensive and ill-informed."

For his part, forum moderator and digitial convergence consultant Tomi Ahonen thought the presentation was "very deep [and] thought-provoking."

Personally, I remember being pitched by Razorfish in the 2002-2003 time period (one of those rate dot-coms Razorfish would have consented to work with I guess), and coming away with the feeling that while I may not have understood a thing about the Internet, I wasn't going to give my business to someone who had the effrontery to tell me how little I knew about without even talking to me first.

I'm with Volk -- Razorfish smells, and their act has gotten dull.

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