Media Medium
3 November 2000

BOO.COM

Boo rises from the ashes

Boo.com began with a splash, ended in tears and has risen again.
The influence of Scorpio, however, won't make things easy.

BOO.com, the on-line global fashion and sports retailer, is the archetypal story of how not to do an internet start-up. Its dramatic collapse last May coincided with the Jupiter-Saturn zeitgeist conjunction in square to high-tech Uranus. It marked an epochal moment in the birth pangs of the new economy (Uranus) and some very old economy lessons were learned (Jupiter-Saturn), such as the need for financial controls.

Fashionmail.com, a U.S. portal, has acquired the name and relaunched Boo as a means of establishing a European foothold. It is no longer selling merchandise and aims to provide an entry point to global fashion retailers, manufacturers, catalogues and magazines. But will the new Boo fare any better?

The original site horoscope (November 3 1999) shows a status hungry Scorpio, keen on sophistication and glamour. Mercury, the planet of trade and networking, is in fiery, jet-setting Sagittarius, in alignment with dreamy, druggy Neptune, planet of fashion and hype. This is Boo, full of wild dreams, burning up advertising cash on champagne bashes for the fashion industry, boasting a multi-lingual Carnaby Street call centre. The air of fantasy is all-pervading, coupled with an unrealistic assessment of internet technology. Its much-delayed, 3D technology was so sophisticated that it crashed on most home PCs. Boo's Virgo Moon refused to accept criticism, insisting it catered only to people with fast connections. After blowing pounds 80 million in six months, it had to end in tears.

The new Boo, launched with a slogan of 'style never dies', turns out to be another Scorpio (October 30 2000). Scorpio, the sign of rebirth, is linked to the phoenix, the mythical bird rising from the ashes, and although in this incarnation there is less hype, there are some worrying astrological repetitions. The technology shouldn't let it down again, but it doesn't look as if Boo will work second-time around. The fantasy line-up of Mercury and Neptune has become a tricky square, with Mercury moving retrograde - bad for communication and bad for trade. Fashionmail.com have over-estimated the pulling-power of the Boo name, especially now that the glossy fashion mags are getting web-wise about multi-platform branding. If it is to succeed, Boo will need to find a magic ingredient to make its site more intriguing and content-rich.

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