The story is all the more amazing if you consider the numbers.

In the summer of 1998, Ernst Malmsten and Kajsa Leander persuaded investment bank J.P. Morgan to invest in In all, their first round of financing brought in $12.5 million (typical for Internet companies in those days). The valuation in this round has never been made public. Early investors included Luciano Benetton and Bernard Arnaul, chairman of LVMH - Moët Hennessey Louis Vuitton Group. The company ultimately raised $135 million in venture capital.

Early expenses were high and in some cases obviously absurd. The New York Times later broke down their expenditures, finding $150,000 annual salaries for the founders, plus $100,000 apiece to rent apartments in London and another $100,000 to redecorate them; $654,100 on promotional giveaways like disposable cameras and snow globes; $600,000 in public relations fees to the firm of Hill & Knowlton; a $42 million ad campaign; a staff of 420 housed in offices spanning from New York to Paris to Munich to Stockholm; and $5,000 per day to a crew of fashion consultants and hairstylists to perfect the look of Miss Boo, the site's computer-animated mascot. launched on Nov. 3, 1999 but was riddled with bugs. Less than one week later, Federated Department Stores retracted its offer to invest $10 million in the company. closed in May 2000, selling its assets for less than $2 million, as discussed above. The arrogrance of the founders did not abate. "It's easy for the press to say that we spent $135 million on Concordes and Champagne," Malmsten said to the New York Times, "but we only drink vodka."

Sources, New York Times as cited in the text, plus Business 2.0, April 2002.

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