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So why heartfelt disdain? Part of negativity is simply result of audacity and arrogance of young Internet entrepreneurs. The dot coms showed up in virtually every business sector, announcing they had arrived to turn industry on its head, all without any depth of experience in industry. For all their audacity, they were rewarded with sky-high IPO results after just a few quick months. Suddenly these interlopers were valued higher than decades-old industry stalwarts. If young dot com smarties had half a brain, they would have purchased some of those traditional dinosaurs. In their arrogance, they didn't see value of dinosaurs. Steve Case of America Online was one of few with wits of nab a traditional industry leader, Time Warner, while AOL's stock was soaring. Executives of traditional companies had good reason to fear these upstarts. There was a moment when an upstart could become your new boss.
Most of dot com arrogance is gone, and with it went swaggering entrepreneurs. Now it falls to dinosaur companies to implement transformation. And do it they will, even while they trash concept of B2B ecommerce.
I recently attended annual executive conference of National Electronic Distributors Association. The dot coms that two years ago came to disintermediate and destroy these distributors are now "dot gone." In their place are humble software companies that sell e-business functionality to industry dinosaurs. The leaders of these software companies are former distribution executives whose start-ups were funded by very dinosaurs they now serve. Better to buy B2B solutions from a former colleague than a whiz-kid college dropout who knows nothing about your industry.
The executives in this industry won. They're eating their cake. They vanquished un-scrubbed dot coms and are now happily hiring their former colleagues to transform their companies. Yet bitter disdain over B2B persists. It likely stems from quiet anger over reality that young no-nothings almost captured age-old industries.
Rob Spiegel is the author of Net Strategy (Dearborn) and The Shoestring Entrepreneur's Guide to Internet Start-ups (St. Martin's Press). You can reach Rob at firstname.lastname@example.org