“Some prominent individuals in the Tacoma tech community are still seething over Art Popham’s August 17th News Tribune column.Whether it’s Popham or the folks he’s quoting that makes them the maddest, it’s hard to tell. Some of these high-tech business people are feeling betrayed by those quoted in the column – people they say they had been doing business with very happily, up until last Thursday.Popham’s TNT column, Doing business with dot.coms takes different style, featured representatives from an advertising/PR agency, a florist, and a construction company in a business roundtable discussing what a local ad agency representative was quoted as calling, the dark side of dot.coms. Catchy phrase, indeed. How’s, lost revenue, for another?Professional PR skills were seemingly not in evidence as the PR rep interviewed did exactly what they tell you not to do in PR school – bash your clientele. Rumor on the street was that without very prompt damage control, the agency’s client base may likely decline by at least one local high-tech firm as a result of the quotes made in the column.Good job. One has to wonder – is that the old-fashioned business sense the rep seems to wax nostalgic for?Why a florist would bash dot.coms is a mystery to me, but one was quoted analyzing Internet business models.Being a journalist, I know I’m a generalist and therefore, not qualified to offer an opinion on pretty much anything, but a florist offering expert advice on dot.com businesses? Please.Here’s a deal for our florist, whom, by the way, runs an excellent florist shop. You don’t try to analyze Internet companies and the high-tech community won’t have Joey Caisse and Scott Bourne do your flower arrangements.Then there is our construction expert, who is, well, a construction expert. He states that dot.coms don’t talk about revenues, but rather focus on burn rate. Well, I have some news – most of the dot.coms I have spoken with are very conscious about where they stand with revenues, profit and loss, and have a well-grounded understanding of the basics of business. They have to – or they won’t survive.Knowing how much money you have to fund operations while in a development phase, in other words, the burn rate, is also not as ridiculous as described either. Other businesses outside the dot.com world basing their long term profitability on a new product or service in development also want to know how long they have to bring that product to market before funding runs tight.In the column’s conclusion, the advertising agency rep is described as not turning his back totally on the lucrative dot.com market. Wait a minute – the bad, untrustworthy guys here are a lucrative market? Wouldn’t they make pretty good clients if they were lucrative?And if these dot.com companies are such a bad risk, why don’t these brick and mortar firms providing them with services and products follow standard credit practices to safeguard themselves?The column finishes with the rep bemoaning the decline of long-term client relationships – not just in the dot.com world, but in general.So, why is this change being tied directly to Internet companies?I wish I knew. High-tech firms are contributing greatly to Tacoma’s economic growth. There are numerous quality startups, as well as established firms, companies relocating to Tacoma, and others opening branch offices to be found in Tacoma.Let’s not sell these guys short. Things change – even in business. But good business practices can – and do – carryover. It is beneficial – if not necessary – to learn how to conduct business with Internet firms.Together, we can take over the universe. “
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