The story of CyberSlice, the first great online pizzeria that was inspired by Sandra Bullock and even Steve Jobs promoted
In 1995 ordering pizzas on the internet was almost unimaginable, but since it (almost) didn’t exist in real life, someone thought it would be nice to look ahead to the future and show what something like that would look like in a movie.
That is precisely what happens in the first few minutes. in the movie ‘The network’. Sandra Bullock appears ordering a pizza online and that, which was an apparently unimportant detail, ended up being the germ of a company called CyberSlice that tried to bring the online pizza business to reality. By the way: even Steve Jobs himself was in the mess.
Hey, maybe the online pizzas is an idea
Pizza Hut had done a little experiment in 1994They created PizzaNet and tried to convince the world that ordering pizzas online made sense. It was too early: they barely managed to sell 10 pizzas a week, but that must have permeated the scriptwriters of the movie ‘La red’, which was released a year later.
At the beginning of the film Sandra Bullock appears playing ‘Wolfenstein 3D’ on her PowerMac 8100/80 (a machine at that time), and soon she goes to the PC with Windows 3.1 that was next to it and, wonder of wonders, there is the imaginary website page of Pizza.Net (well, more or less, the browser used doesn’t seem real).
Sandra orders her pizza, which costs $ 14 without tip (25 years later, the price has barely changed, funny) and goes on with her life, which becomes quite complicated during the course of the film. So far everything seemed normal, right?
An entrepreneur named Tim Glass he saw the movie and didn’t care too much about everything that happened after the pizza thing. He stuck with it, and actually began to obsess over one idea: that ordering pizza online was the future. He found that no one had exploited that option – the Pizza Hut was mostly a symbolic gesture – so he got down to work, and in 1996 he created a company called CyberSlice.
Him and his partner Bryan Cupps they got down to work. To begin with, they registered the patent to be able to order products through the internet (that’s nothing) and soon they began to develop all the technology that would make it possible to turn that business into something real. Your promotional report (PDF) is wonderful.
When Jobs promoted not iPods, but online pizzerias
They did it with important limitations: Google Maps did not exist, and they teamed up with MapQuest for the part that worked with customer addresses. Much more important was its alliance with NeXT, the company created by Steve Jobs that developed the WebObjects technology used in CyberSlice.
That commercial alliance was so unique that even Steve Jobs promoted CyberSlice in a press release commenting how “NeXT is pleased to provide the necessary technology for CyberSlice, combining fun with an innovative business concept.”
The thing went even further: Steve Jobs was the first CyberSlice customer, and was in charge of placing the first order of an online pizza through his website during a press conference in Redwood City, California. By the way: Apple bought NeXT 17 days after that press release.
The pizzerias didn’t even need internet access or a computer: customers ordered the pizzas through the CyberSlice website, and that triggered an automated phone call to the pizza place where a robotic voice dictated the order to the employee.
That generated a lot of interest in a company that faced a huge number of technical problems, and also to convenience problemsIn a 1998 article, CNN reminded readers that “after all, few things are as simple as calling the local pizzeria or Chinese restaurant” to order food delivery.
Online pizzerias were big business, but not yet back then
In fact in CyberSlice they tried to go all out in the wrong way. Were spent $ 54 million in advertising in the four great portals of the time in a period of four years. The problem is not that it was a lot of money (which it was), but that online advertising was not especially good at that time, and it appeared on sites that CyberSlice did not even serve.
The company began a singular and bizarre trajectory that transformed her over and over again. It was renamed CyberMeals – the pizzas weren’t enough – and it tried to expand its business and burn money in the process. In 1998 several companies invested 10 million dollars and I ended up being led by a former Disney executive named Rich Frank.
At the beginning of 1999 CyberMelas became Food.com and from that moment on its strategy was much more transversal. For two decades it managed to function with some success, but the truth is that the original idea of the online pizzeria would end up being much more exploited by other companies. Let’s not say the restoration in general.
But that, of course, is another story. One that ultimately started (a bit) with a Sandra Bullock movie whose blunders in the technological field they were gutted by enthusiasts who caused her to fall off a donkey quite a bit.