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Dangerous times in the dot.com world

BEFORE the tech stock crash, cities like New York were blossoming with dot.com entrepreneurs, men in suits and sneakers who were taking on the world.

It’s a very different story today, however, and directors Chris Hededus and Jehane Noujaim take us behind the scenes to watch the rapid rise of GovWorks in their new film, Startup.com.

This fly-on-the-wall documentary takes the audience through the highs and very low lows of a dot.com company at its very best and, at the end, the very worst.

Kaleil Tuzman and Tom Herman are two old friends who decide to set up GovWorks, an online facility that allows local governments to interact with their constituents. While it sounds like a great idea, raising millions of dollars turns out to be a fairly tough ride for the pair, despite their business background and Kaleil’s showmanship.

But they do manage to attract all the right media attention, including a televised interview with former president Clinton. Despite initial difficulties, the company manages to raise a breathtaking $60 million for the site, which facilitates the payment of parking fines worth an estimated $500 million in New York every year.

The documentary is as much an exploration of friendship as it is the spectacular rise of a dot.com company in the heat of the tech frenzy in early 1999.

The language and rhetoric the team employs to sell the idea are enough to keep the audience entertained despite the failure of so many of these fantastic sounding oper-ations.

And the personal relationships that support the key players offer an interesting insight into the demands of New York’s Silicon Alley.

When the bottom falls out the film manages to reveal the frailty of humanity under pressure and how quickly money can poison simple interactions.

Business News and Luna Cinemas have 10 free double passes to see Startup.com at 11am on Saturday October 27, 155 Oxford St Leederville.

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