Global Economics

Boo.com Reincarnated as Travel Site


The dot-com crashed as an online fashion retailer back in 2000. It has higher hopes for its second try as a travel and social networking site

One of the most high-profile failures of the dot-com crash has been relaunched.

boo.com, which was originally an online fashion retailer when it fell into liquidation in 2000, has been relaunched as a social networking and travel booking site, using user-generated content to help travellers decide which hotels to book.

After reportedly burning through ?85m of investor capital in 18 months, boo.com went into liquidation after failing to raise £20m for a restructuring plan. The old boo was hobbled by usability issues which alienated its customer base.

The domain was purchased in December 2005 by Web Reservations International (WRI), an online travel reservations company.

The site took longer than expected to relaunch, as it involved integrating search, travel content aggregators such as Expedia, customer reviews and social networking functionalities, said Feargal Mooney, boo.com's chief operating officer. The site has been built on existing WRI technology infrastructure using Ajax and PHP. The old infrastructure was sold when the company went into liquidation.

Mooney said another reason it took a further two years to relaunch was that WRI wanted to avoid negative associations with the boo name. "We didn't think it would take quite this long to get the website out there," he said. "Given the history of the old boo, we wanted to get it out there that things work well. We didn't want to have to pull [the site] down five minutes after launching it.

"The techie space will remember but the general public will not remember that much. To investors we're the 'anti-boo'. We started the company with less than €200,000. Every shareholder in the company has got back their investment, we're giving money back, and they're still holding a chunk. We won't rely on venture capitalists giving us money to burn - the contrast with the old boo couldn't be more striking."

Mooney remains unconcerned that web 2.0 technology companies might suffer the same fate as happened to many online companies in the year 2000 frenzy. "I think a lot of people are jumping up and down about web 2.0 - it has been hyped. But the core of user-generated content... what it comes down to is that a lot of companies that are jumping on the web 2.0 bandwagon are not going to succeed. But companies built on more solid foundations will continue doing well."

Provided by silicon.com—Driving Business Through Technology

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