Serial entrepreneur Bill Nguyen just relaunched Lala's music service in the middle of layoff mania. The new version — high audio quality, no DRM — is pretty good. But I have to ask: Why bother, Bill? This is Lala's fourth or fifth attempt at a business model. Nguyen could get funding for another boring enterprise wireless startup like Onebox or Seven tomorrow. Those things make money.I think I've outed Bill Nguyen's secret: In a Valley full of people who want to be Steve Jobs, he wants to be David Geffen — the maverick behind the scenes in the music business. Stoking the starmaker machinery behind the popular song! Too bad the truth is more like that other Joni Mitchell line: "I deal in dreamers, and telephone screamers." UPDATE: Bill replied after I hit Publish too soon. I'll just paste it in:
TIM FAULKNER — A Wall Street Journal article discussing Lala, the online music play with many different strategies (CD exchange, online radio, album downloads, etc...), and its maverick founder Bill Nguyen reveals that the executive keeps the most enduring icon of the dot-com bubble on his desk: the Pets.com sock puppet. Nguyen intends it as a protective talisman to remind him of what can go wrong, but with an expense-laden business (they expect to lose $40 million over the next two years) that requires massive growth of the consumer base to break even, one worries that the business concerns are a little too similar. That the socket puppet talisman is acting more like the tiki that brought the Bradys such bad luck in Hawaii than as a nostalgic motivator.