Boo Hoo (Is Anyone Crying?)

Published on 18 February 2004 in , ,

The demise of fashion retailer was one of the great dotcom crashes if all time. It went down in such a blaze that the entire world must have known what happened. It symbolised not only the successes of the dotcom industry, but also everything that was wrong with it in the late 1990s.

As such, I was interested to find out more, and a chance purchase of the book, Boo Hoo, written by’s former CEO Ernst Malmsten looked like it might be an interesting read.

Might being the word there.

Sadly it’s written in a way (presumably) to make you want to feel sorry for the "hapless" entrepenours would set up Boo, Boo Hoo comes across as being a self-indulgent, whimsical bible of how not to set up a business.

The author (former Boo CEO) seems to have no remorse for playing with the lives of his employees, nor the farcical waste of money that Boo went through. Hair sylists for Miss Boo. Constant refurbishments of offices that they grow out with before they’ve even launched. Pretentious online magazines that no one is liable to ever read… Loosing key staff almost as soon as they arrive.

The wastage was enormous yet nowhere is there any remorse for this. Nowhere is there any concession to the fact that the internet startups simply couldn’t and shouldn’t have tried to take on the entire world in a year. Instead you get self-indulgant, self-pittying twaddle, like reading that one of the founders didn’t want to lay people off when the company was on its knees, crippled, almost dead, begging for mercy!

The book reads like it’s trying to excuse Boo’s managments actions – trying to put the blame on someone else. But no matter how much weaseling the author tries to do to ensure the blame doesn’t lie on his shoulders, it’s thinly vieled and it doesn’t work.

You read and you feel sorry only for the staff who believed in the company, but who were let down by poor management, poor financial control and more.

To do the topic any justice, this book would need to be an impartial, outsiders view. This book does not provide that. It providers an insiders excuses for what went wrong.