Risky Business

Startup.com makes a mint out of a losing proposition

By necessity, Noujaim matched her roommate's work hours, travel schedule, and, presumably, his caffeine ingestion, spending her savings and accumulating more than 400 hours of raw footage before she--and govWorks--were finished. Since its debut at Sundance, Startup.com has garnered the opening slot at Toronto's Hot Docs International Documentary Festival, positive reviews from every paper one could hope to hit, and a better-than-decent opening weekend in New York. Since when is business a riskier proposition than art? Since businesses started flopping like Waterworld, apparently.

Falling into a dot-coma: Tom Herman in Startup.com
Falling into a dot-coma: Tom Herman in Startup.com

That sound you heard last January? That was a $65 million piano hitting the ground. And perhaps the best measure of Noujaim's achievement is her quiet revelation of the secret glee on the faces of the boys 12 stories up, shaking their heads like skaters who have just witnessed a particularly spectacular wipeout and covering their mouths to hide their smiles. It's not their piano, anyway. Besides, the bottom has dropped out of the market for pianos. Now the people making money are the ones who let you watch them fall.

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