A sordid tale from the dot-com boom

Photograph of Marc Collins-Rector from Florida sex offenders registerAh, this story has it all, but where to start? Money, drugs, underage sex, venture capital, Hollywood stars, Interpol and dodgy TV programs!

The chap in the picture is Marc Collins-Rector, and the rather unflattering photo is from the Florida sex offenders register. Back in the dot-com boom, he founded a company called DEN (or >en) for “digital entertainment network”.

“TV is dead,” he proclaimed, because we’d all be streaming video off DEN. Somehow he got millions in venture capital funding, even though most people were still on dial-up and video streaming just wasn’t happening. Most of the money, it seems, went on drugs and parties where… ahem! young men were invited when they were perhaps not of appropriate age.

Some $12 million was spent on a TV series called Chad’s World. Yet the pilot episode is “low-rent porn” quality rather than “network TV”.

For a highly amusing and somewhat smutty summary, check out this parody video of DEN’s business model.

Needless to say, it all imploded — but this investigative report makes for compelling reading. If only because it’s like watching a slow-motion car crash. And because the key characters are still out there, and involved in new business ventures which on the surface sound less than salubrious too.

Thanks to Boing Boing for the pointer. I think.