The clueless entrepreneurs wasting your money

'A lot of dot.com wizards are from the same public school nexus as their film-making older siblings'
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The Independent Online

Here's a thing: why is it these days that when you buy something from the sandwich bar or the fruit stall or from the sandwich bar again, that the paper bag you get the thing that you've bought in always seems to have an advert for some dot.com company printed on the side in cheap colours?

Here's a thing: why is it these days that when you buy something from the sandwich bar or the fruit stall or from the sandwich bar again, that the paper bag you get the thing that you've bought in always seems to have an advert for some dot.com company printed on the side in cheap colours?

What's going on here? Is there some attempted ironic juxtaposition of the determinedly low-tech nature of a paper bag with tangerines in it and the futuristic complexities of the internet, or is advertising just dead cheap on the sides of paper bags? Or - a more likely scenario - the dot.com people haven't got a bleeding clue what they're doing and have been conned by more experienced and crafty paper-bag producers (possibly with links to the Ukrainian mafia) into paying a vast amount of money to have the name of their internet company stuck on the side of a crappy paper bag that nobody is ever going to read? Except me, obviously, but then I'm very, very interested in anything to do with sandwiches or fruit; your average punter isn't.

So here's another thing. Of the something like 98 British movies financed by the Lottery Commission film fund, only six have made any sort of profit at all, and even those profits were somewhat feeble. Now others such as Alexander Walker have quite rightly gone on about this patronising, elitist, inefficient, phenomenal waste of money, giving funds to such rotten movies as Stephen Poliakoff's Food of Love, which cost £2.1m, of which £800,000 came from lottery money, and which made the grand total of £1,507 at the box office. In fact, of the almost £100m of lottery cash given to support British films, less than £6m has been recouped. That is not my point, but from these losses it seems self-evident that the majority of people involved in making movies in the UK do not have a clue as to what they are doing.

And here's the third thing: I have a strong feeling that Britain's clueless, paper-bag-advertising dot.com entrepreneurs are their younger brothers and sisters.

Think about it: it all makes perfect sense. The Lottery film fund has been like the internet bubble and the stock exchange - that is, one of the ways we have in this country in which ordinary people's money is redistributed toward the upper classes. I have a sense that a lot of the dot.com wizards, perhaps the majority - the Martha Lane Foxes and so on - are from the same upper-class public-school nexus as their film-making older siblings. Now bad British film-makers by and large refuse to deal with complex emotional stories that might engage people but instead go for thoughtlessly retreading old formulas, either doing glum fringe plays of strictly parochial interest that should be seen (if at all) in a disused bakery in Birkenhead, and flaunting their lack of ambition on the screen, or making callous gangster movies that are set in some non-existent swinging London.

Similarly, the internet entrepreneurs display the same reluctance to deal with the hard day-to-day realities of making money and instead opt for some strange style-over-substance hope that if you shout the buzzwords loud enough, then somehow money will magically stick to you.

Well, they aren't going to make a profit in the real world, but any day soon I expect the Government to set up the Internet Grants Commission Taskforce Subgroup. It will have two functions: first, it will give another job to the Government's pals.

It will be headed by Lord Alli or Baroness Jay, or some other unelected government goat, and will also probably feature Lord Winston, Ken Follett and the glove puppets Zig and Zag, who used to be on the Big Breakfast.

But like any of the many task forces the Blair administration has created, for instance the Cowboy Builders Working Group and its four sub-groups, of which none of the 63 people involved is an architect or a surveyor, so the Internet Grants Commission Taskforce Subgroup will have nobody on it who knows a thing about business on the internet. That will not be considered a disadvantage - in fact, anybody who has an inkling of what they are talking about will be ruthlessly expunged: that is the government way.

So, after long and arduous publicly funded deliberation, I expect the Internet Grants Commission Taskforce Subgroup to deliver huge amounts of money to the owners of these websites: www.thedomeis great.com; www.imgoingtothedome rightnow.com; www.goto thedomeor we'llkillyourcat.com; www.derry irvingisreallygreat.com and also www.baronessjayisnotauselessunelectedtwonk.com.

These websites will all go bust within months of starting up, butitwon'tmatter.com because ilove tony.com. and thisisthebestcountry intheworld.com.

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