10 Online Business Ideas That Never Took Off

George C. Fatheree, III, pictured in this May 2000 portrait, co-founded the civic resources website GovWorks. Martin Klimek/Liaison/Getty Images

GovWorks was another extremely high-profile bust in the first wave of Internet flameouts. One of the factors in its demise was a familiar one to many on this list: young, often ego-tripping founders who ended up feuding and taking the whole company down with them. The usual signs of disaster also applied (lack of management experience, out-of-control growth, site development issues, a rushed launch, an ill-advised advertising campaign), but the clashing creators didn't help matters. They acquired a terrible reputation among government officials, advertising agencies and venture capitalists that was hard to shake [source: Adler].

The idea behind GovWorks was a totally sensible one: It was an online portal where people could interact with their local governments. It was a place to pay taxes, tickets and permits, renew licenses, all the things you've wasted endless hours standing in line for. But a new version of the GovWorks concept hasn't yet reappeared. Local governments, for the most part, have taken it upon themselves to provide those services, so there's no real audience for a centralized site. Apparently it isn't something we really need anymore.