As the sad news of yet another dot-com venture's passing spread last Wednesday, heads hung low across our great city and our great nation, from saggy sofa to spit-shined cubicle. A noble effort it was, a magnificent candle that burned brightly but all too briefly. Two years was hardly enough time to smell the roses, let alone sell enough of them to turn a profit, yet Kozmo.com tried its damnedest. Back in the heady days of '99, these erstwhile online vendors seemed to have stumbled across a foolproof formula, offering everything from last-minute bouquets for forgetful boyfriends to hot lunchtime lasagna for the office-bound worker bee, all at the click of a well-turned mouse. And while you were punching out on your time clock, Kozmo was just getting started. How familiar is this scenario? It was late, you were stoned. They were there for you like a faithful golden retriever, bearing Marlboro Lights, H䡧en-Dazs—even that Mandy Moore CD you'd been fiending for. And they came right to your door, politely ignoring the cannabis "aromatherapy" odors that wafted across your untidy threshold.
That was the beauty of Kozmo.com. Rather than face the terrifying prospect of venturing outdoors to the nearest grocery store or Blockbuster, one needed only to stay right where one was. "No Shirt, No Shoes, No Service" was simply not part of Kozmo's vocabulary. Hell, you could go without pants, and those dashing delivery knights, always resplendent in their signature safety-orange getups, would still serve you with a smile. Only the most heartless would disagree: Any death is a tragedy, but this one, especially so. Upon hearing the news, local Kozmo-phile Zache Davis seemed to speak for us all when he howled, "What about the porn?!"
Ah yes, the porn. No more embarrassing stare-downs from irate soccer moms as you sheepishly crab-walked your way toward the "adult" aisle in your local video store; no more desperate attempts to read between the scrambled lines on your barren cable box's pay-per-view offerings. Kozmo knew what you and your primal urges required, and they did not hesitate to make your champagne wishes and Spice Channel dreams come true.
Whose fault is it, you ask? Was it their too-swift expansion to not two, not three, but nine cities almost simultaneously? The cowardice of the unnamed backer who reneged on a $6 million commitment at the last moment? As with so many premature deaths, there are always those who turn the blame on themselves. "I hope the $60 in late fees I owe didn't push them over the edge. . . ." whispered Seattle Kozmo-naut John Coyle, his eyes welling with shame and self-loathing. Alas, we may never know the true reason for its demise, nor will we ever get to see what might have been. All we have left are the hundreds of Kozmo delivery drop-offs, and, of course, the memories.