Fathom Knowledge Network

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The Fathom Knowledge Network (or Fathom, or Fathom.com) was a hilariously unsuccessful for-profit online education project into which Columbia sunk $30 million over 4 years just as the dot-com boom turned into a bust. Having essentially pulled the equivalent of throwing venture capital into a dot-com bust, Columbia quietly pulled out and swore never to speak of the incident again.

In retrospect, particularly hilarious moments included highly defensive letters to the editor from Provost Jonathan Cole, and director of Fathom Anne Kirschner, who indignantly wrote "To the Editor: I held a mirror up to my nose before writing this ... just to make sure I am still breathing."

In a related note, Anne Rollow Sullivan was named EVP for Finance in September 2007. Sullivan's prior experience included a stint as vice president for strategic development and marketing for Fathom.

Visitors to Fathom.com today will find the text:

The educational resources formerly available at fathom.com are no longer being maintained and have been taken offline.
The fathom.com domain is not available for sale.
All other inquiries should be directed to the Center for Digital Research and Scholarship at Columbia University (info@cdrs.columbia.edu).

In conclusion, it is hard to fathom how and why Columbia sunk such unfathomable funds into Fathom.

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