Something Awful's Failed Businesses
Dot Complete Failure
This is what the American "job market" looks like. This is according to my search on Altavista's image search page. I dare not question its accuracy.
The esteemed Dr. Fragenstein mentioned over the weekend that the job market has suffered a remarkable decline as of late. Drowning companies have been quick to pin the blame on the World Trade Center attack, as if somehow the agents of terrorism traveled back in time 6 months and took a big old crap on their previous two quarters of earnings. It's a shame that these companies laying people off by the truckload lack the backbone to admit that they were on the downward spiral well before anything exploded into a skyscraper.
Something Awful, on the other hand, freely admits that the bulk of our financial woes have been caused by our repeated attempts to break into the early, successful, days of the "dot com" industry. Back then the sky was the limit and it seemed as though almost any scheme that somehow related to the "vast potential" of the Interweb - or even just computers - would have us diving into our money bin like Scrooge McDuck. Needless to say that money bin turned out to be full of broken glass and used heroin needles. We quickly turned our attention to almost any moneymaking scheme we could cook up. Using the money given to us by Rich's dead uncle Mort after the night we spent in his haunted mansion, we started business after business.
They all failed, but they were all learning experiences in their own way. In the hopes of saving some of you entrepreneurs out there the trouble of failing in several attempts I would like to unveil some of the lesser known failed businesses of Something Awful. Since Arlogeist is pretty much a failure as well don't think I'm telling you how to succeed. I'm just letting you know what it takes to lose huge amounts of money and piss off a lot of consumers.
One of our satisfied AppleCheck customers can live a life free of fear, knowing his apple is safe.
Concept: Almost every man, woman, and child has a fear of one thing: bad apples. We're talking evil apples. Vile and cruel "enemy apples". What better way to make the big bucks than to deal a mortal blow to man's eternal enemy, the apple? We couldn't think of any better way at the time so we decided to create AppleCheck, a company that would use your computer to scan your workplace for dangerous apples.
We developed a piece of hardware that users could connect to their computer's ISA slot. It made no difference if you didn't have an ISA slot, as the hardware wouldn't do anything anyway (we couldn't find engineers smart enough to create a device that monitors for apples). Instead, $3.00 of the daily $20.00 the customer paid us went to other employees that worked next to the customer, who would call us whenever they saw an apple on their desk. Then we figured out if it was an enemy or friendly apple (by guessing), and if it was an enemy, we used the software we forced the user to install and shut down their computer, turned on air raid sirens, and sent Enemy Apple Agents to raid his office. We would open it back up months later, after we had successfully converted it into a hair and nail salon.
The kit that came with the hardware also included a giant subwoofer that played "Apple Repellant Sounds," which was just a slide whistle that played during random intervals at 600,000 hz. For an additional fee a subscriber could join our Super Platinum Service and receive a canister of "Apple Repellant Gas" every month. The apple repellant was really just mustard gas, but it worked because apples don't like mustard. Most customers didn't complain about the mustard gas because we usually forgot to send it to them.
For $300,000 more (the Ultra Super Mega Electrum Service), we would get architects to come into their office and make it more non-apple friendly. This just meant they made the floors slant down towards the center of the room, where there was a big hole in the floor. When somebody perished from an enemy apple, his corpse would just roll down the floor into the hole, where it would fall into a furnace on the bottom floor that heats the building. To counteract everything else sliding down the hole, there were a bunch of fans installed around it, pushing air away from the hole. Good employees were bolted or welded to the floor to make sure they didn't fall in.
Marketing Line: "Bad apples won't keep this doctor away." This was later changed to "An Applecheck a day keeps the bad apples away", but then we were sued by the American Medical Association and forced to change our slogan to "Applecheck: Your Personal Apple Police."
Reason for Failure: Our machine never actually succeeded in detecting enemy apples. This caused a number of tragic good apple fatalities and several deaths caused by enemy apples slipping through our completely nonfunctional defensive screen. Roughly ten thousand people were hospitalized because of lung blistering as a result of exposure to mustard gas.
Like every school on earth, Pedidegree belongs completely to Jostens. So contact your representative today to get a package deal on a class ring and cap and gown.
Concept: According to standardized testing, American pets score lower than any other pets in the world except pets from Mexico. We found this simply unacceptable and decided to start an online college to get pets their bachelor's degree in sixty-days or their money back. We offered degrees in accounting, computer repair, gun repair, hotel and restaurant management, engineering, and electricianry or whatever that is.
We didn't really know how to educate pets to a college degree level, but we figured the pet owners didn't know either. Our courses consisted of a flash animation that you were supposed to hold your pet in front of that made barking or meowing sounds and showed a ball bouncing around the screen. After five minutes the screen would blink and the words "LEVEL UP" would appear in bold print across the Flash window. Then it would show this animation we stole from a Japanese web site that had a dog screeching words in Japanese and then shoot big hearts out of its eyes.
Then the pet would be awarded one credit hour and the owner's account would be charged fifty dollars. After the process had been repeated thirty times a wave file we ripped from the game "Gauntlet: Dark Legacy" would say "BLUE ARCHER IS NOW A LEVEL& 40& GUARDIAN!" If a printer was connected it would print out a diploma that was really just a Wal-Mart lawn and garden insert from my newspaper that I had scanned in and replaced a picture of a tractor with a picture of a dog.
Marketing Line: "We will give your dog or cat the opportunity that your children never had."
Reason for Failure: While people were eager to educate their beloved pets, it turned out that employers were not nearly so open minded. Many blatantly discriminated against graduates of our program, despite the fact that their experience and education made them far more qualified than a human competitor. Our attempts to take this up with the ACLU and various human rights organizations were miserable failures, although I believe PETA is still burning the elderly on top of a pile of fur coats to prove some point related to our business. I don't know, I sure as hell didn't ask for their help.
Steal N' Squeal
Roger and Marsha Dorcey enjoy a meal on The Great Steak Express. What neither of them knows is that when they place their order Roger will be giving our staff the right to make sweet love to his well-built woman. She can't argue either.
Concept: Stealing things is easy. Any toddler with a quick hand can palm a diamond necklace into his pull-ups, but the trick is not getting caught. Since we can't help you not get caught we decided to do the next best thing: provide you with someone else to blame. If you were arrested for stealing something our subscription based service would generate a list of people in your area who did not have an alibi at the time you committed the crime. You could then give their name to the police and you would be completely cleared of the charges and the other person would go to prison for you. If you got out of jail we would be given half of whatever you stole. If it was an item that would be devalued by cutting it in half we would get the whole thing. If it was a living thing we would get whatever parts we deemed interesting.
This was probably our most successful business. After a few months of raking in the dough on subscriptions and getting over five-hundred guilty criminals off the hook we decided to expand our business. We opened a restaurant called "Steal N' Squeal N' Meal". This had no relation to our previous business other than the money from it went to funding this restaurant. Unfortunately a bad shipment of improperly refrigerated restaurant hats caused an E Coli outbreak and we had to close our doors.
We decided to buy ourselves out and reopen the business under the name "Steal N' Squeal N' Reel N' Meal". This was a fishing themed restaurant that consisted of a large indoor stocked pond full of bass. People could fish for the bass and then fry up and eat the bass that they caught. This also had a more direct correlation to our original business because all of the bass were stolen during the great bass heist of 1999 when John Lawson went to prison for 20 years and the bass were never recovered. Our client Baby McGee was given the name John Lawson when he was apprehended and when he was released we took half of his bass.
Things were going good at the new restaurant until one of our dimwitted employees left a crate of the old contaminated restaurant hats sitting next to the bass pond. Over night they leaked into the pond and killed all of the bass. We tried installing little motors in the bass but it wasn't fooling anyone, least of all the health department, who shut us down like a clog dance studio in an old blasting cap factory.
In a last ditch effort to salvage our business we bought an abandoned railroad car and opened "The Great Steak Joke Express". We served steak and the car was haunted by the ghosts of famous comedians. The ghosts were actually pillowcases full of rats with the face of Groucho Marx drawn on them in permanent marker and an unlit cigar taped near the mouth. We hired attractive female waitresses but they kept screaming and stomping on the rats with the ghost boots we gave them so we had to fire them and replace them with former POWs. When someone would order a steak they would give them a wooden stake and then laugh and turn the menu upside down and in really small print it said "every time you order a steak, that gives us permission to have sex with your wife."
Marketing Line: We never actually had a public marketing campaign for Steal N' Squeal or any of the businesses related to it. In fact we're not really sure how anyone found out about our businesses, but people did, and we got in a lot of trouble because of it.
Reason for Failure: I covered the reason why a number of these businesses failed. The final blow for "The Great Steak Joke Express" came when the rats escaped and found the crate of rotten restaurant hats that were in a garbage dump. They ate them and became violently aggressive. The next day when the POWs shoved them into the Groucho pillowcases they began to leap onto tables and attack customers. The lawsuits this incident spawned forced us to close both Steal N' Squeal and The Great Steak Joke Express. I think that's about all I can fit in without breaking some sort of law regarding the length of Something Awful articles. Instead I will promise you that everyone's good friend Lowtax will return tomorrow with a definite positive conclusion to the businesses we've started, probably. In fact he may not at all, because he is a raging alcoholic and is currently under investigation for wearing his hat a bit too rakishly in the state of Missouri. Hopefully he will, because I wouldn't want to leave you folks hanging a whole TWO DAYS!
New Fireman Comic!
Hot off the presses of the 1950s, a new Fireman Comic!
That is so hot I think I need to drink something cool! Like an ice cold glass of lemonade. I sure like lemonade. Imagine I wrote a couple more sentences here in which I make small talk about Fireman Comics, even though you obviously know just how bad ass they are because there is one right above this text. In the mean time, check out the Fireman Comics site!