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       Just a few short months ago, Paul Thorsen thought he had a firm grasp on the brass ring of the journalism merry-go-round. He was in the forefront of one of the sexiest stories of the decade—the examination of the lives of dot-com entrepreneurs after the crash.
       Thorsen prided himself on being among the first to see possibilities in the stories of 23-year-old geeks and dreamers who had founded dot-coms expecting to become millionaires before their 25th birthday only to be left contemplating their crushed ambitions in a room in their parents’ basement.
       Such stories had every element of exciting journalism: tales of excess and decadence, sympathetic characters and a crushing reversal of fortune appealing to the schadenfreude in all of us. "I remember thinking that this was the story of the decade," he says, "and that the complacent establishment was missing the boat. The dot-com collapse represented a sea change. I went around using those and other nautical metaphors to anyone who would listen."

       His first interview, financed by money from his parents, was with Jason Bitman, founder of, one of the first Web sites to crash-and-burn dramatically.

       His interview caused a sensation in the national media and earned fame for its poignant portrayal of the once-arrogant young lion and the bitter aftermath of his company’s demise. After the success of that story, failed dot-commers and media titans "lined up to speak with me," Thorsen recalls.

       "Suddenly I was Mr. Big," he says. "Everyone wanted a piece of me. It was just a crazy, insane time. It was easy to start believing my own hype."
       Other journalists were quick to follow in his footsteps. Soon Thorsen found he was part of a clique that was the envy of an entire country, a class of media heroes that could do no wrong.
       "Every editor would return my calls," he says "Some of these people didn’t even know what a failed dot-com entrepreneur was, but they had to have an article about it. It was—well, yeah, it was hysteria."
       Thorsen admits that his ego ran away with him during that time. He quickly got a reputation for arrogance. Rumors spread of Thorsen’s decadent three-day party during which he served Champagne from a hollowed out block of ice sculpted into the shape of supermodel Gisele Bundchen. "All we journalists wanted to talk about was how long had left and which pufferfish chefs could be flown in from Japan on short notice."
       Thorsen admits now that he never saw the end coming. One day he sent another story to his editor and got the reply that people were "tired" of reading about the failed dot-com entrepreneurs. And suddenly, almost overnight, every dot-com had failed, and there were no new interview subjects available.
       He spent the next several months in a deep depression, but eventually came out of it a changed and wiser man. "There’s more to life than work," he says. "I’ve just been enjoying things like walking on the beach with my dog and spending time with my girlfriend. I’ve been writing songs again, and I’m thinking of putting together a band. But first my girlfriend and I are going to do some traveling in South America."
       Then he adds, with a grin that recalls the swashbuckling days gone by, "Just as soon as she gets laid off from her job writing about pink-slip parties."

More end of the new economy humor:
First Aid for the Dying Dot-Com

Alan Greenspan's Tales of Terror

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