It's the battle of the breakfast seminars! Over the last three weeks I've been at Bogen PR and LPNYTHink's Breakfast Network, the Silicon Alley Breakfast Club, and Siegel and Gale's Interactive Breakfasts 1999 series. Each was unique in its own way. Siegel & Gale's event was Tuesday, May 11th, at the University Club on 5th Avenue. Some heavy-hitters were on this panel: Guy Kawasaki (CEO of garage.com), Nicole Vanderbilt (director, Mindshares program, Jupiter Communications), Emmen Hidgon (assist, VP, T. Rowe Price), David Webster (exec. VP, Siegel & Gale, managing director of the interactive group) and Nick Gould (VP, marketing & biz dev at educational media, Scholastic). The conversation touched upon the pros and cons of real vs. virtual stores, with a focus on eToys vs. Toys 'R Us and Dell vs. Gateway. David commented that he thinks Gateway has a good model that offers the ease of on-line shopping to savvy buyers, but the touch-and-feel features that new online shoppers need. Nicole asked if these companies should be all things to all people, and Emmett pointed out that customer service issues are getting to be more vital, which is why companies like LivePerson.com are so hot. David talked about companies like drugstore.com will obviously run into problems when people who need a prescription in an hour or the next day. Nicole reminded us that the problem with the brick & mortar stores is that for the most part, they don't know who their customers are, and that, in fact, you're probably more anonymous with them than you are with an on-line component. She recalled the first virtual store with a real world presence at The Met, Virtual Emporium.
Guy made a funny comment about a conversation during dinner with some folks at Lucent the previous night. They decided they should give away cars and sell billboard ads for revenue. Haha. Yet, that's our revenue model for the Internet! Among the questions posed to the panel afterwards was "which would you rather be? Dell or Gateway?" They all answered "Dell," except for Nick, who said that he bought Dell even though he'd rather be Gateway. I might vote for Gateway too, considering the troubles I've been having with my new Dell -- Fatal Exception Errors and I are getting a bit too familiar with each other. Unlike the other breakfasts, at least half the audience stayed to schmooz after the event, and I had a chance to catch up with Andrew Zolli (VP, interactive media, Siegel & Gale), Gina Lalli (VP, Siegel & Gale, interactive media) and Jay Sears ( EDGAR 's On-line.) Andrew Raisej said "hello" and reminded me about MOUSE's upcoming June event. I also touched base with Paula Batson of A2B and Laura Berland (EVP), Michael Greene (VP, Digital biz dev) of ORB, the Ecom Advisors, and Marci Weisler and Robert Levitan (Chief Floozer) at Flooz.com. JC Herz was telling Alex Stanton, of Stanton Crenshaw, and me about her new company, which is centered around a web site and documentary on video games.