Postman.jpg
"Is that Postman?" a local journalist in the crowd asked, referring to a Marilyn Monroe look-alike who was singing some happy birthday wishes to the one-year-old SeattlePI.com last night at the Crocodile. (Personally, I thought the heels looked a little high for him, but hey, we report, you decide.)

It was, altogether, not a bad party. Champagne, pizzas from Via Tribunali, tiny little birthday cupcakes for the tiny little online-only newspaper that was born when the Seattle Post-Intelligencer died one year ago this week. The site's general manager, Pat Balles, toasted to "a crazy year with a lot of milestones." Michelle Nicolosi, the PI.com's executive producer, said "We're doing great," and then pointed out that when the PI.com first took over the old P-I's web site it was getting about 4 million unique visitors a month, and now it's getting... about 4 million unique visitors a month.

"This was exactly the result that we were hoping for," Nicolosi said, hailing the "small but mighty SeattlePI.com news staff" and toasting to "many more" birthdays to come.

The question hovering over the event, of course, was exactly how many more birthdays there are to come. Which is another way of saying that no one knows how much money the Hearst Corporation, which owns the PI.com, is currently losing—and how long it will take for the site to turn a profit, if ever.

Maybe it's that I've been thinking about this a lot lately, but it all reminded me of another decade, a time when we weren't in the middle of a Great Recession and everyone seemed to be rolling the dice on some online venture or other. Memories of this decade—the great dot-com boom of the last ten years of the last century—came up in the trial that's at the heart of the feature I wrote for this week's paper. At that trial, Mike Lacey, co-owner of Village Voice Media (and 14 alt-weeklies around the country, including the Village Voice, the SF Weekly, and the Seattle Weekly) recalled on the witness stand what it was like in San Francisco during the dot-com boom.

All of the speculative money that went into the dot-com revolution, it blew up. I think most of us remember those Superbowl commercials from that period of time. They were advertising things and you couldn't quite figure out what they were advertising. This was dot-com when it was going on. And I remember here in San Francisco that there were more parties being thrown in San Francisco, dot-com parties—every week you could go to them. It was—it was a great time if you like to party... That changed in 2000.

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The PI.com party was a nice time, if you like to party. The question is whether it can last, or if it's a very late straggler to the grand tradition of throwing a nice bash right before the bubble bursts.

Btw, I'll be on KUOW 94.9 FM, starting at 10 a.m., talking about the PI.com's birthday and other news of the week.