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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
- Audio Commmentary by the Director and the principal of the movie
- Additional 15-minute documentary, Catching up with Joseph Park
Top Customer Reviews
Equally fortunately, although Joseph Park is Korean, he has an clear and standard American accent. This is just as well, because this movie should have been called "The Joseph Park Show". The guy is on screen the whole time (except - perhaps significantly - during the payroll chaos in the despatch area ) and he does not shut up.
He has two modes of speaking - the first is snappy, caffeine-charged corporate-speak, the second is slow, thoughtful and annoying speak, you know, where the speaker repeats the first word of a sentence until the thought process fully kicks into gear.
With the hustle and bustle of a busy, energetic company, Joseph Park is the vortex of his tornado, but whether he's being too sharp or too tedious, the viewer always has a vigorous situation to absorb without necessarily having to concentrate on his every word. I especially enjoyed the Starbucks shareholder meeting and the aforementioned payroll chaos - the bosses were in their ivory tower talking about millions in venture capital while the poor delivery guys were trying to extract their hundred bucks from the clueless paymaster.
Whether by accident or design, I found the clarity of the audio decreased towards the end. It was almost as if Joseph Park was being swallowed into the belly of a whale - the plunge of the NASDAQ, the losses being racked up by the company, the mirage of the IPO, the people appearing out of left field to take over Kozmo. It all added up so that his voice was no longer the song to which the company danced.
This leads me to the DVD extras. There is a full-length commentary, with both the director and Joseph Park. Unfortunately the director said virtually nothing about how the movie was shot , or his vision, or even his opinion on what he was witnessing. He is basically there to ask Joseph Park questions, and the whole commentary becomes a tedious post-mortem of a dead company. If you can wade through 90 minutes of Joseph Park in annoying-speak mode, there are a few snippets and worthy insights, but generally the commentary is not worth your time.
Equally disappointing is a mini feature, supposedly about what the main participants moved onto a couple of years after Kozmo closed. Unfortunately the production standards are low and Joseph Park has nothing interesting to say anymore.
This movie was hard to get for a while, but I see now that's back in print. If you are interested in how snappy talking and a big smile can rake in millions of dollars, grab E-Dreams and let Mr Park take you on a wild ride of good intentions, incompetence, big bucks, hype and ambition.
Great film to watch and lots of insight into how not to run a company.
Founded by a former employee of Goldman-Sachs, this young CEO was no stranger to the world of investments and balance sheets. His idea for an internet company that would deliver snacks and videos 24 hours a day, 7 days a weeks, within an hour of the order placement was an original one that actually drew in gargantuan partners Amazon.com and Starbucks.
The idea became reality, gained momentum, and flamed out during the dotcom flameouts.
Having been involved in two startups myself, I see an interesting similarity in business problems, cultural trends within the business, and the initial winning of optimism over reality. When reality does start to knock at the door, in the form of financial statements which are in the red, the initial startup enthusiasm is impossible to maintain, and the corporate culture shifts from excited entrepreneurial hope to one of corporate rules and accountability. Many of the personalities who were drawn by the entrepreneurial free-wheeling energy are put off by the corporate shift to rules, and organization. It seems to be inevitable that those who start corporations are usually never around to run the businesses they start.
I have searched for information on where Joseph Park is today, and so far have found nothing.
I would like to see the next documentary track the "after the fall" period for these brilliant, innovative CEO's, who were in the right (or the wrong?) place at the right time, and went from millions to bust almost overnight.
It would be interesting to see how many rise from the ashes, as the proverbial phoenix, and how many disappear into oblivion after their 15 minutes of fame.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Though E-dreams suffers from the fact that it's less compelling and well-made than its contemporary "[...Read more