Doomsday is coming let's make some money

Published: Sunday 31 January 1999

 Making money before the mille (Credit: Photograph:<s)your telephone stops working, television conks out, bank account statement goes berserk and your computer? Well, it is dead.

Welcome to the first day of the 21st century. The y2k syndrome has wrecked havoc on every computer and computer networks all across the planet.

Can doomsday scenarios such as these can get more frightening? Yes they most certainly can. For instance, nuclear plants, which are essentially managed by computers, can suffer multiple meltdowns while aeroplanes might drop like flies from the sky. Both catastrophes, needless to say, can kill thousands, perhaps even millions.

And even though software experts from across the planet have already come up with several simple and not-too-expensive solutions for the y2k problem, the initial panic gave science fiction writers enough food for thought and probably for a few bestsellers as well.

But now, it seems science fiction writers were not the only ones inspired by the y2k conundrum. It has spawned a new breed of 'business' people -- those who thought they could make some fast money as the end of the electronic world drew near. Steve Troy is one of them.

Troy, a former hippie, currently owns Jade Mountain, a "sustainable living" mail-order company in Boulder, usa . The y2k syndrome, also referred to as the millennium bug, has made Troy the new prophet of a 'decadent electronic age'.

Fearing global monetary system failures and frequent power cuts when 31.12.99 becomes 1.1.00, thousands wanted to stockpile products that will let them live for months once the millennium bug manifests itself through global infrastructural cataclysm. And it so happens that Troy has all these 'products'. Power breakdowns? Jade Mountain has solar panels at us $400 apiece, current inverter ($895) a huge bank of six-volt storage batteries ($189 each). He has them all: from fearfully expensive drinking water filters and sewage handlers to frozen meat products that you might want to cook on January 1, 2000. But of course, you'll have to buy that solar oven for $385 first.

And how is Troy's business doing? Well, he is happy. Since June 1998,, the official Website of Troy's company, has been getting some 200,000 hits every week. And Troy? He rests comfortable with the thought that he is getting very rich, very quick.

But who is buying Troy's stuff? Panicky computer engineers comprise a major chunk of his buyers, placing us $10,000-orders. Rich people, who are absolutely clueless about the whole y2k thing, are ready to make expensive preparations and are lapping up everything Troy has to offer.

According to the Jade Mountain's spokesperson Russell Groves, one woman dropped us $3,000 on a y2k Christmas, buying wind-up radios and solar toys for her entire family. She even took out two new credit cards for her y2k Christmas, certain that after the 'collapse of the banking system', she would never have to pay them off.

Such paranoia means good business for Troy. He is already expecting us $3,000,000 in earnings.

The three million dollars, however, has not changed Troy much: he still walks around in flannel shirts, remains as low-key a guy as he was when his buyers consisted mainly of pot farmers, and still climbs down a tree to get to his office. Talking of his buyers, Troy says, "They might get into it due to some fear or panic, but once they are involved, it's really great and meaningful." Put that way, doomsday 2000 almost seems like fun.

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