They were handed $280 million dollars at age 28. They were on top of the world with a revolutionary idea to change our daily lives. And then it all came crashing down! This is the unbelievable story that follows the ups and downs of Joseph Park and Yong Kang, the founders of Kozmo.com. It's about the madness of chasing wealth, the lure of excess and the struggle for the American Dream. The Seattle Weekly raves - Filmmaker Wonsuk Chin manages to make the dot-com saga captivating again, thanks in part to his charmingly sympathetic central character.
All great things come to an end, and the dot-com era embodies that perfectly. Beneath a mound of bankruptcy paperwork lies the remains of a former dot-com darling, the company Kozmo.com, an online convenience store stocked with ice cream, porn videos, and other basic necessities of a urban dweller, all hand-delivered by couriers within an hour. Designed in 1997 by two college roommates -- Joseph Park, a 27 year old Goldman Sachs banker, and Yong Kang Kozmo flamed out in three short years, raising more than $280 million in venture capital funding and from partnerships with such bigwigs as Starbucks and Amazon.com. By December 1999, the company boasted 4,000 employees in 11 cities, its barking CEO Park attracting all kinds of media attention. The company was set for an IPO in May 2000... until April 14, 2000, the day the stock market took its first big dive, ending the Internet era. By April 13, 2001, Kozmo was out of money and ceased operations. Unlike the earlier, similar documentary Startup.com, which chronicled the rise and fall of another dot-com, govWorks.com, e-Dreams focuses both on its original founders, especially Park, and on the common folks that ran the day-to-day operations. The contrast is amazing, showing how a cult persona can convince anyone that any idea is the Next Big Thing. The film's director, Wonsuk Chin (Too Tired to Die), expertly juxtaposes upper management company meetings with on-the-spot interviews with the bike messengers, general managers, and floor staff that kept Kozmo humming. The film's images give a backbone to the company and provide an emotional edge to its ultimate demise. The most satisfying part of the film comes in understanding, to a degree, the expectations of numerous CEOs commanding these Titanic-type businesses. In the film's final interviews with Park, we learn what happens when the money dries up and backers don t return phone calls. In the end, the name of the game was profit, and if you couldn't make money, even the dreamers got the axe. --Filmcritic.com
The spectacular rise and precipitous fall of Internet delivery service Kozmo.com is chronicled in Wonsuk Chin's documentary, which covers much the same material as Chris Hegedus and Jehane Noujaim did in STARTUP.COM (2001). The most immediately apparent difference is that GovWorks.com, the company whose travails drive STARTUP.COM, never really got off the ground. Kozmo.com developed a high profile and a loyal following among harried young professionals in several cities, notably the company's debut market, New York City. The brainchild of two young Goldman Sachs employees, Joseph Park and Yong Kang, Kozmo was built on the notion that overworked young professionals want instant gratification but lack the free time to get the stuff they want themselves. Kozmo promised to secure video games, groceries, movies, liquor whatever consumer goods its customers wanted and deliver them within an hour. The story begins in 1996, when Park tries to buy a book from Amazon.com and is frustrated that he can't have it delivered that same day, and ends in 2001, when Kozmo.com ceased operations. The film was shot in 1999 and 2000, as Kozmo expands from ten employees to 4000, becomes the darling of the business media, raises hundreds of millions of dollars in investment capital, prepares for its IPO, then crashes and burns after the stock market contracts in April 2000. Kozmo's go-getting business development staff engineers strategic deals with mega e-tailer Amazon.com and coffee lifestyle purveyor Starbucks, while Park who tends to shoot his mouth off in front of the press gets the company embroiled in an ugly dust-up with e-marketing technology giant DoubleClick. The boyish, perpetually enthusiastic Park, public face of Kozmo, is also the film's dramatic focus, though director Chin never gets far behind the youthful CEO's smiling facade. In fact, we learn more about Park's background when Chin films Park talking to another video crew (he reveals that he emigrated from Korea to the U.S. at age three with his family, and got an early lesson in entrepreneurship from their dry-cleaning business) than at any other time. Nevertheless, the film delivers what it promises: A look at the wild ride that ensues when brash young men set out to conquer the online world with laptops, cell phones and sketchy business plans. --Maitland McDonagh --TV Guide
The dot-com boom having since gone bust, the documentary E-Dreams plays out in quite a different offscreen context than did last year's similarly themed sleeper Startup.com. While there's surely a great deal of overlap between two nonfictioners, E-Dreams may suffer from perception that this subject has been done on the arthouse circuit already, thoroughly engaging pic has its own distinct virtues. Exposure in suitable fest, broadcast and rep-house berths is signaled. Stunningly fast rise -- and faster fall -- of Kozmo.com began in 1999, when co-founder Joseph Park had a simple brainstorm: To (as one gushing TV profile later put it) spread the gospel of immediate gratification by making Internet-ordered goods receivable within one short hour. Videos, comfort food, games and other Gen X faves could be ordered online and delivered to your door by bike messenger in each Kozmo-catered burg (initially just NYC, at peak eight U.S. cities). A seeming shoo-in for success during go-go economic times, Kozmo rocketed from an initial 10 employees to some 4,000 just 15 months later. Huge investment/tie-in deals were inked with heavy hitters like Starbucks and Amazon. But the profitability question haunted reckless expenditure growth, while administrative, service and personnel infrastructures strained to keep up. Premature IPO rumors (ultimately, public share sales never came to be) crashed into a newly nervous NASDAQ. In the end E-Dreams is most striking as a portrait of a certain kind of mass hysteria: Trusting the logic, the last thing we want to do is play not to lose Kozmo instead personified the classic dot.com scenario of giddy overconfidence followed by catastrophic no-there-there collapse. Affable CEO Park is at center stage here; dynamics with his co-founders are much less highlighted (let alone contentious) than in Startup.com. It's a wild ride from which he'll no doubt recover, though pic reps a cautionary tale that suggests hyper-growth is a business course best consigned to Wall Street history books. Fast paced documentary debut for U.S. Korean emigre Wonsuk Chin (who previously wrote/helmed pretentious '98 fictioner Too Tired To Die) sports sharp HD lensing, brisk editorial rhythms and apt use of techno-club tracks. --Variety