This U.K.-based retail site Boo.com, founded in 1998 by Swedish entrepreneurs, intended to showcase trends and deliver fashion and sports clothing and accessories to customers all over the globe. Hundreds of employees were hired and many were given perks like cell phones and Palm pilots. Boo spent $42 million on an ad campaign that included hiring Roman Coppola to direct its TV commercials. The site was expected to go live in May 1999, but it launched six months late in October 1999. The site featured an animated assistant called Miss Boo, and the ability to drag clothing onto models, zoom in on items and see them from all angles.
The technology behind the site was impressive, but it was too slow and clunky for most people's computers and dial-up connections. Users also had to download software to view merchandise, and it was incompatible with Macintosh computers. Lots of would-be buyers had issues making purchases. The site's costs were staggering -- just photographing the merchandise cost $200 per item [source: Chaffey]. The site had to maintain versions in multiple languages, and deal with currencies, taxes and shipping for regions all over the world. Boo.com couldn't turn a profit fast enough to remain solvent. Due to the dot-com crash, the planned IPO was put on hold, and the company failed to raise enough capital via new investments to keep the site going. It shut down and went bankrupt in May 2000. The technology behind the site was purchased and used by Venda, a company dedicated to getting retailers online, while the Boo.com site itself was purchased by Fashionmall and relaunched as a portal to other retail sites (it's since disappeared). Boo.com spent $185 million before closure, but the sale to Venda and Fashionmall brought in less than $2 million [source: Sorkin].