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25 worst web sites > II June 22, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Internet.
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19. WebVan
The big daddy of dot bombs, WebVan ripped through $1.2 billion of investment capital before checking out for the final time in July 2001. The costs of building a national network of grocery distribution centers proved too great for the online grocer. It’s a classic example of a great idea without a viable business model. The only reason it’s not higher on our list is that its delivery service was actually pretty good, while it lasted.

18. Beenz.com and Flooz.com (tie)
These ambitious schemes to float a Web-based e-currency both sank like a rock in August 2001. The sites hoped wary Netizens would rather trade credits for goods online than use credit cards, but consumers said No Sale. The biggest difference between the two? Flooz featured Whoopi Goldberg as spokesperson. Her career hasn’t been the same since, either.

17. Boo.com
This symbol of dot-com excess burned through cash so fast you’d think its executives worked for the federal government. The fashion retail site featured a 3D avatar named Miss Boo, but the real stars of Boo were its founders, who spent money like it was going out of style–$120 million in six months on lavish apartments and expensive gifts, as well as a site that was too unwieldy for the largely dial-up world of 2000. Amazingly, Boo.com is scheduled for a comeback later this year under new owners. Be afraid, be very afraid.

16. Microsoft Windows Update
Microsoft could have escaped our notice if we didn’t have to visit this cryptic and difficult-to-use site so often. It’s the only reason to ever use Internet Explorer–and then simply because Microsoft’s update site won’t work with any other browser. But it’s not reason enough.

15. Neuticles.com
Are your pets embarrassed about being neutered? Their four-legged friends need never know, thanks to Neuticles–implants that restore the look if not the function of their recently removed body parts. In an especially nice touch, the site opens with a flash animation of a bouncing ball (naturally). Yes, these cosmetic cojones are no joke; prices start at $73 a pair. Not to be confused with BumperNuts, which provide a similar service for your car.

14. BidForSurgery.com
Sadly, this site is exactly what it says it is. Think Priceline for face-lifts and tummy tucks. No, we are not joking.

13. Whitehouse.com
Not the virtual home of our president–that’s Whitehouse.gov–Whitehouse.com began life during the Clinton era as a site devoted to political discourse. In September 1998 it helped distribute the Starr Report, but by then it had also become the most notoriously named porn site on the Web–featuring, among other things, a White House Intern of the Month. Today the site hosts a white-pages listing.

12. The Dancing Baby
Both strangely amusing and deeply disturbing, the famous dancing toddler boogied its way across the Internet and into the spotlight, appearing on both Ally McBeal and a Blockbuster video commercial during the mid-nineties. There are now dozens of variations on thousands of sites. If you’re looking for the parties responsible for giving birth to this phenomenon, blame its parents at Burning Pixel Productions.

11. Rabies for Kids
Here’s what happens when good intentions meet really bad design. Published by the Viral and Rickettsial Zoonoses Branch of the Centers for Disease Control, the Rabies for Kids site is an orgy of graphical offal. You’ll be foaming at the mouth long before you reach the “Activities” section, which features a photo of a dog’s brain being sliced with a scalpel.

10. MyLackey.com
This Seattle-based site offered to walk your dog, pick up your dry cleaning, and do all other manner of scut jobs for a fee. (Isn’t that what kids and younger siblings are for?) The dot com contracted with local service providers for the dirty work, but apparently applied the “lackey” notion to its own employees as well. An infamous memo from cofounder Brendon Barnicle berated the company’s 65 employees for not putting in 11-hour days, making MyLackey a symbol of the dot-com work ethic. Sixteen months after it began, the last lackey still standing closed the doors and shut off the lights.

9. Hamsterdance.com
Quite possibly the most irritating site on earth. Earplugs recommended.

8. BonziBuddy
This animated purple gibbon called itself “your best friend on the Internet,” but many who downloaded this free program weren’t feeling too friendly afterward. Buddy could tell jokes, recite your e-mail, manage your schedule, download files, and more. But the grape ape also tracked users’ surfing habits, hijacked home pages, and installed several of his adware buddies. Depending on your browser settings, merely visiting Bonzi’s Web site or clicking a banner ad could install Buddy on your machine. In 2002 annoyed Netizens had enough of this monkey business and sued Bonzi for deceptive advertising. By 2005 Buddy was history.

7. Pets.com
Who let this dog out? Back in the heady days of 1999 it must have seemed perfectly normal to spend $175 million making a sock puppet famous. But the notion of saving some coin on kibbles and kitty litter never caught on with consumers, and by November 2000 Pets.com had been euthanized–going from IPO to liquidation in just nine months. Before it got sent to the pound, however, the dot com filed suit against Triumph the Comic Insult Dog for allegedly defaming its moth-friendly mascot. Apparently, even sock puppets have feelings.

6. Pixelon.com
More dot con than dot com, this streaming media company boasted of a revolutionary new technology that would deliver high-quality audio and video over the Net. But Pixelon CEO and founder “Michael Fenne” was in reality a grifter named David Kim Stanley, who spent the majority of investors’ money–some $16 million–on a launch party in Las Vegas featuring Tony Bennett, KISS, and The Who. Prior to starting Pixelon, Stanley had pleaded guilty to swindling friends and neighbors out of $1.5 million; he was on the lam and living out of the back of his car when he founded the company. Pixelon’s revolutionary new streaming technology was equally spurious.

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