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Kaleil Isaza Tuzman and Tom Herman have had a dream since they became friends at age fifteen: get rich by developing their own dot com company, in some aspect of computer technology interface. Now in their late twenties, they have now come up with the idea they believe will make their riches, namely as Tom refers to it, "parking tickets": the company will be the on-line revenue collection interface for municipal governments. GovWorks.com came into existence in May 1999 with only an idea. The process of building the business focuses on obtaining venture capital based solely on the idea, with the actual mechanics of the website seemingly almost an afterthought, or at least one left primarily to the hired help. Regardless of the strength of the idea itself in raising this capital, another initial problem they face is what they see as non-commitment by a third partner, Kaleil's friend Chieh Cheung. In early 2000, they do manage to go live with their product to what seems to be a promising... Written by
Great potential but killed by a lack of focus and vision from the makers
At the time of the dot.com boom, Kaleil Tuzman and Tom Herman start up their own internet company seeking to offer a platform to enable activities carried out at the local Government level, such as the payment of parking tickets, applying for licenses and so on. We join them at the very start of this journey as they gather funding, grow the employee base and begin developing their product and compete for business and investment. However, in business as in life, things do not always go to plan.
I was quite looking forward to this film, not least because it was one of the documentaries screened as part of the ten year anniversary of the BBC's Storyville stable Storyville being known for the quality of the documentaries. Secondly I did also think the film sounded fascinating on many levels due to the subject matter but also the amount of access it had to the top people in the company throughout the entire process. I'll get to what I think of the film in a minute but firstly let stress that my focus will be what I thought of the film and NOT simply personal views on the people. Reading reviews here, I was surprised by the number that said little on the film but seemed to be reviewing Kaleil and Tom several with opinions and insinuations that I personally would call offensive at best, racist at worst.
Many have commented on the way Kaleil and Tom delivered (or failed to deliver) their product but again the concern for me as a viewer is how the makers of the film have failed to deliver. I'm not sure where the failing occurred but how it appears is that they thought the battle had been won simply because of their great access and that simply being there would be enough to make this fascinating viewing. They are wrong. I'm sure it must have been tough to edit the film down from two years into this running time but it feels like all they have done is cut together bits that are important, without really packaging it together or helping the audience understand anything beyond what we are seeing. As a result it really fails to portray much of value in regards business or the dot.com era hell, even the closing captions seem brief and disinterested.
Without a focus from the makers we are left to find our own and of course we end up on the individuals of Kaleil and Tom. This makes the film more of a fly-on-the-wall reality TV show, relying on personal tensions etc to drive the story forward; but you know what? It isn't that good. Both men are interesting to a point but neither individually or together do they justify a film to share this with the world. It is a shame because the film is not terrible by any means but without any sort of focus and a real lack of vision from the makers, we are left with very little of interest to work with and annoyingly it becomes increasingly apparent as you watch.
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