Where Are They Now? They Made Headlines During The Boom.
By Alynda Wheat; Eric Dash; Christopher Tkaczyk; Jonah Freedman; Adam Lashinsky; Julia Boorstin

(FORTUNE Magazine) – They came to us pitching gee-whiz business plans and painting visions of integrated platforms, enabling technologies, and wizardry beyond compare. They created billions in wealth that seemed built on--and that all too often evaporated into--thin air. They preached until we were converted. And then they disappeared. What's become of those agents of change, many of whom once graced our list of the 40 richest Americans under 40, and some of whom still do (see following story), but are now grizzled veterans of dot-com disaster? Some have gone a little native in the few years since those dizzying, ridiculous market-cap highs. They're growing apples. They're having kids. They're back in school. They're learning to fly. They're (gulp) awaiting possible prison terms. And guess what? A hardy few have even kept the faith. --Alynda Wheat

Josh Harris, 40 Then: Jupiter Communications, Pseudo.com Now: Films and growing apples

Harris became notorious for his six-month, $600,000 project WE Live In Public, in which he installed 36 cameras and twice as many microphones in his apartment and broadcast over the Net every move he and his hired "girlfriend" made. The project ended in early 2001. By then Pseudo.com, the web-based television content pioneer/party house he'd started in 1994 after founding media think tank Jupiter Communications, had gone bankrupt. In October 2000, Harris literally bought the farm: a 153-acre apple orchard in Livingston, N.Y. When he's not driving a tractor around the place, he's working on an "art-house classic" film, Tuna Heaven, about a six-day sport-fishing trip in San Diego. Or he's making "flat art"; his latest painting, Cristos Gilligan, portrays the sitcom sailor as the Messiah. "Sometimes I wonder if I was ever really a businessman," ponders Harris. "It's all been basically preparation for what I'm doing now." Oh. --A.W.

Charles Cohen, 32 Then: Beenz.com Now: Writing

The founder of online currency site Beenz.com, which he sold in August 2001, now writes business books and advises myinstantreward.com, an online coupon company. He doesn't seem to mind losing his paper millions: The Beenz experience "was probably more expensive than an MBA, and maybe more useful." --A.W.

Patrick Naughton, 37 Then: Infoseek Now: Software development

This former Infoseek EVP pleaded guilty in 2000 to crossing state lines with the intent to have sex with a minor he met in an Internet chat room. To avoid jail time, he agreed to help the FBI develop software programs to catch Internet pedophiles and other sexual predators. --Eric Dash

Joe Park, 30 Then: Kozmo.com Now: Harvard Business School

Admit it: Part of you thrills to see the brash Kozmo.com co-founder sweating it out with other B-schoolers, humbled by his delivery-on-demand company's flameout. If only. "The fact that I had this experience at such a young age [means] I'm head and shoulders above a lot of people my age when it comes to general management skills," boasts Park. "So when it comes to my future, I'm actually quite excited."

Park, who was famous for sleeping at the office and for getting replaced by his CFO when Kozmo's chances of going public fell apart, does have some reason to smile. He escaped with a little scratch--he says it's less than $10 million--got into the nation's top business school, and is getting married in November. And he already has plans for a new business: video on demand. "Incubating it in Boston," he says, "is great." --A.W.

Robert Levitan, 41, and Spencer Waxman, 38 Then: Flooz.com Now: Consulting; fund management

The end of Flooz, which was trying to develop an e-currency for the web, was almost too strange to be true. First the Russian mafia started buying thousands of dollars' worth of merchandise on the website with stolen credit cards. Then Flooz's bank started to hold deposits as security. Finally it was forced to shut down in August 2001. And its founders? Levitan (above left), who before Flooz co-founded iVillage with Candace Carpenter (who has turned her attention to writing and education), now consults for British media giant Pearson PLC, helping it develop television shows in China to familiarize the Chinese with English before the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Waxman (above right) manages an investment fund for Wynnefield Capital and markets a technology called LocalAlert, which helps schools notify parents of emergencies via cellphones, pagers, and the like. The two still see each other regularly and take some comfort in their Flooz experience. "I ran into [former Flooz spokeswoman] Whoopi Goldberg," says Levitan. "I hadn't seen her since we closed the business, and I didn't know how she was going to react. [But] she gave me a big smile, a kiss hello, and said, 'You know what? At least we weren't crooks.'" --A.W.

Jason Epstein and Michael Sloan, both 28 Then: eLink Now: Columbus Nova Investments

Epstein and Sloan crossed over to the dark side in March to become venture capitalists at the same New York firm. Nearly a year after new management edged them out of their telecom venture, they seem reflective. "As we get a little bit wiser about business," says Epstein, "we look at [leaving eLink] as war wounds we're really proud of." --A.W.

Jeffrey Dachis and Craig Kanarick, both 35 Then: Razorfish Now: Not much

The former bad boys of tech admit they've been fairly idle since resigning under pressure in May 2001 from the e-business consulting firm they founded. The duo still live in New York, where Kanarick spent six months as a prep cook at celeb chef Mario Batali's eatery Babbo. Dachis has started Studioholdings.net--"a simple company that holds the assets that I manage." --A.W.

George Bell, 45 Then: Excite@Home Now: Upromise

The best ideas come while car-pooling. That's where Bell met Michael Bronner, founder of Upromise, as they dropped their kids off at their Massachusetts school. Bell, a former documentary filmmaker, left Excite@Home in April 2001. (Excite continues to operate, though the company went bankrupt five months after Bell stepped down.) He was spending most of his days banging out the outline of a really-this-one-is-going-to-be-different dot-com book when Bronner suggested that he become CEO of Upromise, which lets members accrue college savings by patronizing partners like McDonald's, AT&T, and GM. At two million members, it's a much smaller venture than Excite, but Bell claims not to miss the, well, excitement. "When you're living inside of an opportunity like Excite, it's easy to get caught up in the accolades, the market cap [once $22 billion], the drama," he says. "But you...suddenly find that you've missed reading to your kids for the tenth night in a row." --A.W.

Dave Kansas, 35 Then: TheStreet.com Now: WSJ.com

In 1999, as editor of the newly public TheStreet.com, Kansas suddenly had a worth of $9 million on paper--unheard-of for a journalist. With the site losing money, he left in June 2001, later joining WSJ.com as deputy managing editor. He's philosophical about his wealth's rise and fall: "I wasn't in it for the money." --Christopher Tkaczyk

Jim Heckman, 36 Then: Rivals.com Now: TheInsiders.com

The founder of sports-sites network Rivals.com left in June 2000 after a dispute with the board; months later the company went bust. Heckman vowed "to start over from scratch." Today he runs TheInsiders.com, a sports site that he hopes will soon expand to general news. --A.W.

Jared Polis, 27 Then: Bluemountain.com Now: Business and politics

In December 1999, Polis and his parents sold Bluemountain.com, their online greeting-card business, to Excite@Home; Polis, who'd been CEO, pocketed more than $150 million (see the following story), giving him plenty of wherewithal to "do the things I enjoy." Among them: Proflowers.com, a $70 million online florist he founded; Cinema Latino, a Spanish-language theater chain; and Asia Investment Partners, a fund that buys distressed debt in Japan. Polis is a politician too: He was elected to the Colorado State Board of Education in 2000 and says he wouldn't mind running for Congress or for governor someday. And he's a baseball nut. Asked if he might like to buy a team, he replies, "That's a healthy fantasy for a 40-year-old, but for a twentysomething the healthier fantasy is to play professional baseball." But isn't that rather unlikely? "Quite unlikely indeed," he replies. "Perhaps only slightly more likely than selling a company with only a few million in revenue that's bleeding cash for close to a billion." --Adam Lashinsky

Terry Drayton, 42 Then: HomeGrocer.com Now: Ramp Technology Group

Drayton has moved on to Ramp Technology Group, a consulting business he co-founded in late 2000. But he's still upset about the fate of his Internet grocer, which he sold to Webvan in June 2000 and which failed 13 months later. "The ego and incompetence ..." mourns Drayton. "They pissed it all away." --A.W.

Joy Covey, 39 Then: Amazon.com Now: On sabbatical

The former CFO of Amazon.com hates the word "retirement"--and it shows. In the two years since she left the house of Bezos, she's traveled extensively, earned her pilots' license, and started a foundation. The only thing not on her agenda? Work. "There's not much out there that seems terribly tempting," she says. --A.W.

Stephan Paternot, 28 Then: theglobe.com Now: Acting

Other ex-dot-bombers ducked and covered once the party ended, but Paternot sought the spotlight. First came a round of talk-show appearances to flog his 2001 tell-all, A Very Public Offering: A Rebel's Story of Business Success, Excess, and Reckoning. The story: Cornell undergrads create website that lets users trade e-mail, chat, and make their own web pages; stock closes at $63 on the day of the company's November 1998 IPO, making Paternot and co-founder Todd Krizelman rich; stock crashes to $9 a share by January 2000; Paternot steps aside.

The latest public offering from Paternot is on film. He produced and stars in the indie short Wholey Moses, about a frustrated, purple-haired doughnut artist. "Stan Moses...is a really talented painter, but he paints on a medium people keep eating," explains Paternot. "So he's conflicted between making a living on these doughnuts that people really crave and pursuing his artistic passion." And what about the hair? "The screenwriter says this is all about sugar. Nothing represents candy better than purple." --A.W.

Greg McLemore, 34 Then: pets.com, toys.com Now: WebMagic

The former CEO of toys.com (he sold it to eToys in 1998) and then pets.com (the sock puppet went bankrupt in November 2000), McLemore continues to build websites through his private company, WebMagic. But over the past couple of years he's discovered his true passion: classic arcade games. "I have one of the world's largest collections of arcade machines from the 1890s on. I'll probably end up doing some kind of a museum." --A.W.

Raj Dhaka, 34, Tim Gray, 35, Jessica Herrin, 29, and Jenny Lefcourt, 33 Then: WeddingChannel.com Now: Ticketmaster; Velocity Electronics; Dell Computer; parenthood

In 2000, WeddingChannel, the online wedding-gift registry founded by Raj Dhaka and Tim Gray, merged with a similar one run by Jenny Lefcourt and Jessica Herrin. Today, WeddingChannel is a going (and, yes, profitable) concern with $130 million in sales in two years--but none of the four founders remains. How come? Herrin left in May 2001 to follow her husband, Chad, to a new job in Austin; she's now a senior sales and marketing manager at Dell Computer. Lefcourt (pictured here) departed in June 2001 to have a baby, Leo. (She and Herrin say they're cooking up an unnamed new venture that will be "bigger than butter.") A burned-out Dhaka left in August 2001 to spend several months with his family in India; he's now a consultant with Ticketmaster. Former CEO Gray left back in December 1999 because, he says, "it seemed like my work was complete" there. He went to IdeaLab for a year, then became CEO of Velocity Electronics, a B2B component distributor. But "a lot of times I wish I was back there running WeddingChannel," Gray confesses. "I'd be lying if I said that weren't true." --A.W.

Jeff Arnold, 32 Then: WebMD Now: The Convex Group

After his October 2000 exit from WebMD--still valued at $1.8 billion--the health-site wunderkind attracted high-profile partners like consulting firm McKinsey to his new firm, which works with FORTUNE 500 companies to make forays into tech-related areas like wireless and video on demand. --A.W.

Toby Lenk, 40 Then: eToys Now: Entrepreneurship

Lenk famously let hundreds of millions in paper wealth slip through his hands as his toy-selling website crashed--taking his net worth with it. Until recently, he advised Highland Capital Partners on technology investments. He's now working on a comeback plan. "It's a secret," he says. --A.W.

Mariam Naficy and Varsha Rao, both 32 Then: Eve.com Now: Movielink.com; ZoelleJewelry.com

Their two years at Eve.com were like Marketing 101. First lesson: branding. "I definitely learned that the brands held the cards," says Naficy, recalling that beauty outfits like Clinique and Lancome refused to sell through Eve.com, which sold to Idealab for $110 million in October 2000. Naficy now serves as VP of marketing for Movielink, an Internet movie downloading website. Rao, launching her own jewelry site this month, took the lesson too. This time, she says, "all the products are exclusively designed under the Zoelle brand." --A.W.

Nicholas Butterworth, 34 Then: SonicNet Now: MTV Networks

When MTV bought SonicNet in late 1999, it also acquired the company's connected young leader, Nicholas Butterworth, former executive director of Rock the Vote. He now runs MTVinteractive, a division of the music channel that tried and failed to go public in 2000. --A.W.

Marc Ewing, 33 Then: Red Hat Now: Alpinist magazine

Leaving Red Hat, the software maker he co-founded and that made him a paper billionaire by age 30, was literally a breath of fresh air for Ewing. (He retired in 1999 because "I was tired of it. I thought, Why don't I do something closer to what I really like to do?") Since then the married father of two has been focusing on his favorite hobby: rock climbing. Earlier this year Ewing decided to use some of his estimated $120 million (see the following story) to start Alpinist, a quarterly magazine whose first issue hits newsstands in November. Alpinist is aimed at both the experienced climber and the novice, a niche Ewing says hasn't been tapped: "It could be both a great business and a great contribution to the climbing community." --Jonah Freedman

Marc Collins-Rector, 42 Then: Digital Entertainment Network Now: Awaiting extradition

The DEN.net founder was captured in Spain in May, nearly two years after he and two of his webcast-business partners fled the country amid charges of sexual abuse filed by former teenage employees. In 2000 he was indicted by a federal grand jury for transporting a minor across state lines with the intent of engaging in sex. If convicted, Collins-Rector may be lounging behind bars for years. --E.D.

Ernst Malmsten and Kajsa Leander, both 31 Then: boo.com Now: Entrepreneurship, parenthood

These Swedes' ballyhooed clothing website lasted all of 18 months (until May 2000) and burned through $135 million. "It's not easy when your company is the first to collapse," says Malmsten, who recently sold the film rights to his memoir, boo hoo. Leander left tech, got married, and recently had her third child. --A.W.

Reporter Associate Melanie Shanley