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Selling Cynicism How Despair Inc. cashed in on office malaise.
By Bill Barol

(FORTUNE Small Business) – If Justin Sewell sounds pessimistic about his firm's latest effort--potentially a "company-killing miscalculation," he says--that may just be a job requirement. Since its founding in 1998, Despair Inc. has become the biggest (and only) online retailer of "demotivational goods," peddling its message ("Give up") to disaffected cubicle dwellers via elegantly cynical posters, coffee mugs, and memo pads. The profitable Austin firm says revenue reached $1.75 million last year. Now an ambitious mailing of 2.25 million copies of its first glossy catalog may push Despair into the mainstream. But Sewell isn't counting on it: "We're not laboring under any illusions of manifest destiny." --BILL BAROL