Boo.com (1998-2000; precursor to: Next.co.uk, et al)
If you were cool and wanted clothes, you were part of Boo.com's target audience. Boo.com was one of the first to demonstrate the calamity that was to be the typical scenario for dotcom businesses at the turn of the Millenium -- overhype, overfund and overexpand. It was an online consumer fashion Web store, founded by Ernst Malmsten and ex-model Kajsa Leander in 1998, and launched the following year -- after eating £80m before selling a single item of clothing.
To guide you around the bandwidth-heavy site was Ms Boo, an animated little shop assistant. The problem was that in 1999, the limited numbers of people on the Net were using the also-limited bandwidth of dial-up modems, and browsing the site was a slow affair.
Overstaffed, overpaid, over here
Perhaps that's why eight weeks before its demise in mid-2000, Boo.com had only managed to generate £200,000 in turnover from 300,000 customers. For a company that employed 400 people when it only estimated it needed 30, such a disappointing revenue was hardly enough to keep it afloat. Worse still, the company needed countless millions in additional funding, and as the tech stocks were plummeting like a pigeon shot mid-flight, the doors of banks were slammed, locked and welded shut.
In retrospect, Boo.com simply tried to do too much, too soon. With over half of Britain's Internet users now on broadband and trust for online shopping much greater than it was in 2000, Malmsten and Leander's venture could've seen great success.