The hottest thing right now is the social networking site. YouTube and Facebook were founded by twentysomethings messing around with technology and a vision in their college dorm rooms – and now they’re billionaires. Never mind that YouTube contains the stupidest video clips mankind has ever made; never mind that Facebook may very well turn into Friendster (remember Friendster?) in a few years or so. Who cares? There’s money in the dot.com universe.
Back in the mid-90’s, internet retailing is the shiz. Amazon stocks are selling at more than $100 per. And fortysomething businessman named Craig Winn has an idea: what if one created an inventoryless Internet superstore, wherein customers can get their goods delivered straight from the manufacturers? He gathers his friends and jets around for investors (he is Craig Winn; if he wants to sell something, boy will he sell) and receives enough money and promises to jumpstart Value America. Who cares if the founder is in his 40s and hates the Internet? Who cares if they’re selling more over the phone than over the company website? (Wait. What?) Who cares if they’re generating little profit, and that customers are complaining about missing or incomplete merchandise, or that the company website’s home page is taking five minutes to load? (Even in 1995 that kinda sucks.) Also, who cares if Craig Winn’s last company – Dynasty – crashed and burned under his leadership? But really, who cares – Value America stock is selling nicely. It will make even its janitors billionaires.
Right smack in the middle of all this chaos and excitement is author J. David Kuo, who so loved Winn and the company that he was able to entice his bride-to-be to leave AOL to become a Value American.
Of course, we can glean from the title what happens in the end.
This is a fast, easy read, thanks to Kuo’s engaging style. I read somewhere that he worked for the Bush White House. God, this guy can’t get a break. Wonder how he’s doing now.