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Centrifuge Partners' plan for sandhillroadkill.com

from Jargon Scout

The following is taken from an email sent to me by Colin Mangham, one of the principals at Centrifuge Partners. It explains what the partners originally intended to do with the domain name sandhillroadkill.com.

The four principals of my firm functioned as the Marketing Department of a retail pure-play startup birthed in October 1999. It died on June 5, 2000. So we witnessed firsthand the cradle to grave of a dot-com. (Interesting times, indeed.) Subsequently, we chose to wear our experience as a purple heart, if you will, with our mission being to save struggling dot-coms, tech starts, and established companies with fresh e-commerce initiatives from the boneyard.

In thinking of ways to communicate our refined service offering, we drew inspiration from F-----Company.com and coined the term Sand Hill Roadkill. No sooner had those words rolled off my lips than we found ourselves on the floor nursing belly laughs. It was just too perfect. So we decided to "viral" it out, knowing that eventually people would be familiar with the term and would likely key it into a search engine (or check it through Register.com) to see what turned up. This would hopefully get them to sandhillroadkill.com and what effectively is a jump page to our consulting firm's site.

Our initial plan for the site was to create a smallish community that positively (as opposed to the F-----Company approach) exhumed and analyzed the bones of dot-coms, effectively performing public autopsies so that living / breathing dot-coms and others might avoid the same fate. As it turns out, we fortunately found ourselves with a lot of business right off the bat in our new configuration, leaving little time to build out the sandhillroadkill.com site as intended. (Cobbler's shoes, you know?) But we're pleased to find that the idea is still right-on, and more topical than ever.

In fact, it's the premise behind our approach to providing marketing services to the green or troubled portfolio companies of VC firms. We've found that many VCs are now focused on keeping their babies alive as much as they are on having more babies. (Must be that profitability/accountability thing we talked about.) So we're able to come in and offer a fiscally responsible interim marketing department to recently funded companies, or in effect perform the functions of a department that has been significantly scaled down or (God forbid) cut completely.

Fiscally responsible? Absolutely. We offer a concentrated higher level of talent for a much lower price than if they were to staff up, pay out benefits, and incur the downtime inherent in any business where you have employees who don't always have something to do -- or, worse, deal with employees who have little to do, so they create work and whole initiatives (that may or may not be best for the company) to in many cases justify their existence. The latter, albeit inspired by loose purse strings, contributed to "marketing" and "branding" getting such a bad rap in the financial community post dot-com explosion -- the whole thing with blowing money on Super Bowl ads as a means of building general awareness for companies who would have benefited most from cost-effective guerilla tactics and 1-to-1 communications focused on inciting visits, trial purchases and return visits (not just eyeballs).

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Created 2001-03-16