Article > Opinion

Romancing the Dot Bomb

By Jon S. Owens

Even the Internet needs proper channels of distribution.

As the owner of pro basketball's Dallas Mavericks, Mark Cuban and his billions have had a significant impact on the NBA's draft. Billions? Yes, billions. You see, Cuban was one of the few to successfully cash in on the first wave of the Internet enterprise.

Where Cuban succeeded however, millions of others failed. As a result, the time period from roughly early 1999 to late 2001 is now referred to infamously as the era of the "dot bomb." Within that group of failures are countless automotive aftermarket ventures. Do you remember,, Autovia, iStarSystems and iCarumba?

Why so many failures? I believe the first run of Internet enterprises failed due to a simple economic principal: no distribution.

That's right. Distribution once again justifies its intrinsic value even in the face of the "dot bomb" era. I say distribution, you say "infrastructure" or "connectivity." Let's call the whole thing off. And, basically, that's what they did. You see, without the proper distribution value chain in place, the first wave of Internet enterprises were doomed to fail, and that's exactly what happened, which took many of our investments with it.

Most Internet start-ups back in '99 and '00 failed to realize (or, even more short-sightedly failed to accept) that the world was not quite ready for all that the Internet could offer. Everyone desires a soft serve ice cream cone, but nobody makes it at home. Most everyone I know goes to the local Dairy Queen, or independent soft-serve distributor for this tasty treat. And so, the Internet offered efficiency and promises of great riches if you just used it. But, nobody had connections to it (or, at least not the high-speed connections that make utilization more practical.) Not only that, nobody fully understood how to apply the technology to their own environments (i.e., no training, which is also an attribute of fully functional distribution or "infrastructure.") The Internet seemed to be a "tasty treat" that no one had access to.

But here we are four years later, dedicating an entire feature story on how the Internet is poised to help you in managing your distribution business. We do so because we believe the Internet has made (and continues to make) great strides in helping to foster and build its distribution network. Distribution begets distribution, so to speak.

The irony is not lost on me, nor should it be lost on you. The Internet is ready to help because its distribution network is more robust, full and richer than ever before, and it's improving at a rapid pace. As Internet-based companies become more efficient and effective at what they do, due to these distribution or "infrastructure" improvements, you now have the ability to become more efficient and effective at what you do by utilizing their products and services.

Nothing (or at least very little) works effectively without a comprehensive and complete distribution infrastructure soundly in place. The Internet is on the verge of achieving this status. The automotive aftermarket has had it in place for years. Make no mistake, distribution drives our industry, and it is poised to drive the future of the Internet. So, the next time you visit your local Dairy Queen, think of that soft serve machine as the Internet, loading up your cone with rich, creamy and tasty information that makes you feel all good inside.

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