Founders: Kaleil Isaza Tuzman, Tom Herman, Chieh Cheung
Industry: Government Services
Year Founded: 1998
Year Defunct: 2000
GovWorks was founded in May 1998 with 8 employees and was originally known as Public Data Systems. The service delivery model for govWorks which was inspired by Tuzman after he found a two-year-old parking ticket in his New York City apartment, was to offer a service that provided the ability for people to pay city fees through their Internet portal. The initial launch of govWorks.com online services to select markets occurred in October 1999 in key cities in Massachusetts and Connecticut with a full scale rollout planned in early 2000.
The firm set out to provide a website portal to allow citizens in local communities to access, pay or apply for city services, jobs or receive community information. Unlike many other dot-com companies of the time, the services provided by govWorks.com appeared to have a well-defined business plan, a market in need of a service and offered access to city services with ease through their website portal. However, like so many others, govWorks’ mismanagement, demand for capital, speed to market and a lack of proper service execution eventually contributed to the failure of the company. In January 2001, Tuzman and his investors sold the company to First Data Corporation.
Just a few months after the founding of govWorks.com, interest in the company was strong and govWorks.com employee count grew to 30 employees as of August 1998 and by October 1998, the company had 70 employees. The Startup.com movie showcased a business culture with energy and excitement; people were interested in joining the company with the hope of getting in at the beginning stages of another dot-com success story. As additional capital investment came into the company and as the company neared its full scale rollout in 2000, the company expanded further with headcount from 120 employees in January 2000 to over 250 employees in April 2000. However, as depicted in the movie, govWorks.com suffered from a number of organizational power struggles and governance issues that would eventually lead to the company's demise.
Towards the end of 2000, when it was clear that the company was hemorrhaging money and not able to fully execute its planned services, the company dramatically reduced its headcount to 60 employees in November 2000 in an attempt to stem the $1 million per month in overhead expenditures. The company was sold to First Data Corporation in January 2001. The documentary film, Startup.com which was released by Artisan in May 2001, won the Grand Prize at the 2001 Sundance Film Festival and accumulated $765,000 in initial box office receipts.
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