DEN.net and the Top 100 Websites of 1999

While digging through some books, I stumbled on this DEN.net press packet from November 1999, six months before the notorious video startup’s collapse.

The packet’s a nice little time capsule of their dot-com excess, with promo materials, a breathless press release about their relaunch (“Youth Culture Network Creates Groundbreaking Content That Revolutionizes The Interactive Entertainment Experience”), and copies of articles from the New York Times, USA Today and the Wall Street Journal.

They took the site down for three full days to launch their redesign, something you don’t see often these days. “DEN is here and we’re changing the face of entertainment for Gen Y audiences, bringing this age group an interactive experience unlike anything they’ve known,” said then-CEO, Jim Ritts. (He was ousted three months later after their IPO was shelved.)

For me, the highlight is an included copy of “The 4th Annual P.O.V. 100 Best Web Sites,” where they appeared at #4. Published by the short-lived P.O.V. magazine, which itself shuttered a month before DEN declared bankruptcy, it’s a nice artifact of the era.

All the usual suspects are there — Broadcast.com, hot off their $5.7B acquisition by Yahoo!, Third Voice, and Six Degrees, alongside webzines like Feed, Word, and Brunching Shuttlecocks and proto-blogs like Cardhouse, Obscure Store, and Jeffrey Zeldman Presents. Debuting on the list at #93, a new search engine named Google that “really works, scouring billions of links for junk-free matches — and it does so quickly.” #100 is Joshua Schachter’s Memepool, “an ever-expanding set of links from smart folks who exist only in cyberspace.”

I was going to scan it in, but managed to find a PDF created by the author himself. With his permission, I’ve mirrored it locally:

Surprisingly, DEN.net is still online, an archive of some old videos and documents, with the intriguing tagline “We’re back…” But since it’s stayed exactly the same since August 2007, I wouldn’t hold my breath for a relaunch.

7 thoughts on “DEN.net and the Top 100 Websites of 1999

  1. Sorry, I was distracted by nostalgia for Memepool.com.

    Thanks for sharing this document. It was a simpler time on the net back then. It’s interesting to see which sites survived and I can’t believe some of the sites that were popular back then and yet I remember most of them. It seems like the ones that survived did so because they had business models that worked.

  2. Hey, I worked for #1! Funny I don’t remember DEN around then though. I do remember quite a bit of all those sites in the list, those that are still around, those gobbled up by someone bigger, and that are no longer around. It was certainly a whole different playing field back then. So funny.

  3. Yes, the POV party for that was, uh, big… Very 1999. (I wrote the POV list for four years running.) My favorite part of the list was really those “proto-blogs” (good name for them), as they were hitting upon something new and interesting back then. Believe it or not, I’m still into listing things, and have a top 100 list (well, several) at Web100.com.

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