So long, VIP

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06/23/2009
Well, I hate to see companies go out of business and people probably lose their jobs, and money thrown down a hole in general, but it does sometimes feel good to be right. Remember when Steven Brill conned people into giving him $44.4 million to fund Verified Identity Pass and the Clear lanes? Here is how I scoffed at that:
I don’t know. Back of the envelope, it just doesn’t make that much sense to me. Maybe there are a bunch of sponsorships they could sell - advertising in the lanes and partnerships with hotels and car rental joints, etc. But I think the average security experience is going to get better, not worse, as fewer people will fly now that it’s more expensive and those fewer people flying will be more experienced. Plus, the laptop and shoes and jacket things will go away fairly soon for most people as technology is developed. So I’m not even sure they would ever get a quarter of their target market to sign up. Maybe I’m wrong. Steven Brill is a smart guy, and the investors aren’t dummies, but it seems like irrational exuberance to me.
Yep, Brill is so smart he bailed on VIP a few months back. And now the company is going out of business. They blame the economy, the TSA, just about everybody. But, really, it was just a bad business plan selling a not good enough product to not enough people. Simple as that. How else do you burn through $44.4 million in less than a year?