Foreword for E-Volve-or-Die.com
September 13, 2000
Peter Sisson, Formerly Founder and CEO of WineShopper.com, Now Vice-Chairman and
Chief Strategy Officer, wine.com
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.
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 WineShopper.com.
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, WineShopper.com was a company of 80 with $14 million of
venture funding in the bank. A few months later, Virtual Vineyards became wine.com,
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, WineShopper.com was a company of 200 with a total
of $46 million raised, and wine.com had $90 million in their coffers! Now, as
I finally write this forward in the second half of 2000, wine.com and WineShopper.com
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.
company could have predicted this outcome a year ago - but that is exactly the
If you want to learn how to figure
out what type of change is in store for your company, you must read this book.