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Startup.com, a new documentary by Chris Hegedus and Jehane Noujaim about the rise and fall of a highly touted company called govWorks.com, makes for surprisingly engaging drama. Even without such niceties as any voice-over to provide context or (with few exceptions) music to bridge the gaps, the story unfolds crisply and coherently.
I don't think I'd be giving away too much to let you in on the upshot--the dotcom economy tanked, taking the startup with it. So what can I offer here? How about ... an anthem to commemorate the era of cyberspace?!
Oh Say, Can You See?
Aptly subtitled, "The Rise and Fall of an American Dream," the movie tells the story of twenty-somethings Kaleil Isaza Tuzman and Tom Herman, best friends since childhood who decide in 1999 to team up and ride the Internet boom by creating govWorks.com. Tuzman and Herman envision govWorks.com as a Web site that will facilitate interactions between citizens and government. Reduced to practice, the Web site is a tool to enable people to pay parking tickets, obtain government licenses, or look up government-based information.
By the Dawn's Early Light
Tuzman and Herman are not the only people who think govWorks.com is a good idea. In the course of a year and a half, the two Internet-preneurs build a business that amasses more than $50 million from smalltime investors and venture capitalists. From July of 1999 to the summer of 2000, govWorks uses this influx of money to grow to more than 250 employees.
What So Proudly We Hailed
Kaleil Tuzman, who was a Harvard classmate and New York City roommate of director Jehane Nouhaim, is the front-man and star of both govWorks and Startup.com. A former investment banker at Goldman …