Foreword for

September 13, 2000

By Peter Sisson, Formerly Founder and CEO of, Now Vice-Chairman and Chief Strategy Officer,

Change. Fearful for some, a challenge to others, and chock full of opportunity for those who understand that building a business is about solving problems, and if nothing changes, there are no new problems to solve!! Typically, these "problems" are those of your customers, future or potential. Sometimes the problems are obvious, like the need for sharpeners after pencils were invented. Sometimes consumers do not know they have a problem, and demand needs to be created, for example when it dawns on someone that they need a Palm V organizer.

But other problems involve the changing circumstances in which businesses operate. Often the change is technological, and certainly much of the opportunity spawned in the new economy has been the result of technological change. But other things change as well. Economic prosperity, worker skillsets, consumer preferences, access to capital, internationalization - the list of change factors is long. The constancy of change - and the need to respond - is a persistent theme in this book, culminating in the final chapter.

The need to adapt is something of which I am particularly aware. When I first met Mitchell, I was trying to get him to work at a startup I was thinking of founding called Our competition would be a sleepy company called Virtual Vineyards, with limited venture backing and a limited selection of wines. By the time Mitchell started working on this book, was a company of 80 with $14 million of venture funding in the bank. A few months later, Virtual Vineyards became, and raised $30 million. The race was on, and this was late 1999, when venture capital for consumer e-commerce flowed like water. By the time Mitchell asked me to contribute to this book, was a company of 200 with a total of $46 million raised, and had $90 million in their coffers! Now, as I finally write this forward in the second half of 2000, and are one company - we agreed to merge just a few weeks ago. Although there were many good strategic reasons for the merger, the sudden disappearance of venture capital support for consumer e-commerce was a sudden change we needed to address. So we adapted, taking off our boxing gloves and joining forces, instead of wasting scarce capital trying to kill each other.

Neither company could have predicted this outcome a year ago - but that is exactly the point.

If you want to learn how to figure out what type of change is in store for your company, you must read this book.