Foreword for

September 26, 2000

By Love Goel, CEO, Personify

If I was to make one observation about the human condition, and the state of companies in America today - I would have to say - we are in the midst of a evolution revolution - companies and leaders are evolving at an exponential rate compared to even twenty years ago, when the PC was being invented. A new breed of entrepreneurial ventures, in the late twentieth century, are breaking the old paradigms by capitalizing on technological innovation, speed, customer focus, availability of venture capital, and a creative workforce. They created new businesses and new business rules and are at the dawn of a new age that has redefined - successful companies, the leaders who run them, the leadership styles that work, and the personal rewards bestowed on those who succeed.

Amidst all this change, there are some constants - there is no substitute, as a lot of the new breed of entrepreneurs are discovering, for profitability, strong leadership, integrity, and talented people. Some knew this and built their companies to last, some have learned this lesson the hard way, and yet others have learned it too late or not at all.

The old breed has undergone a roller-coaster ride - not for the weak of heart - where the fear of God was basically put into them - the fear of being Amazoned (Retail), Yahooed (Media), Etoyed (Toys) or what have you for your particular sector. Today, they breathe easier knowing they are not extinct, yet - but they are losing dollars, mindshare and most importantly customer relationships to the new breed of players. The old breed are too large, too disorganized, unable to galvanize resources to focus, unable to attract world-class talent, and unable to free up the capital to compete effectively. Their time might not have caught up with them yet, but the wheels of evolution are turning at an ever furious pace - there is still too much venture capital chasing good ideas that will kill the old breed - and this time around the threat will come from even more credible players with better business models, better leaders, and even more effective execution.

As an observer and a participant in this evolution, I have had an opportunity to learn and experience firsthand the ups and downs of the ride we are on. I've had the tremendous opportunity to work in transforming and building enterprises among the old breed - early in my consulting career to help large companies like Cargill, Carlson, Sears, Supervalu, and Prudential prepare for the future; then, in 1998, the privilege of helping to launch and build, in a Fortune 1000 company, Fingerhut Business Services, the nation's larges fulfillment and direct-to-the-consumer services provider that helps clients like, etoys, Levi's, Pier 1; and then, in 1999, to create one of the largest E-commerce Network's in the world for Federated Department Stores, the parent of Macy's and Bloomingdale's, where our 17 properties did more than $200 million in e-commerce revenues. Recently, I have had the privilege of serving as CEO of Personify, a San Francisco based profiling, analytics, and personalization software company, that is helping e-business better understand their business and customers in order to rapidly accelerate growth and profitability.

From this perspective, I found the book quite engaging, introspective, and candid. I know you will enjoy and appreciate this collection of first hand insights from so many leaders in the evolution revolution. Whether you are a CEO leading the old economy charge or a lieutenant helping to transform a new economy venture, you will find timeless truths about the (r)evolutionary challenges in developing new business models, the leadership experience, and the e-volution process that will lead to the extinction of many companies we know and love.