Monday, November 13, 2000

New York eCommerce Association ~ ePanel: “Differentiate or Die”

About 60 Ecommerce types (preponderance of suits and ties) paid $40 each for nifty hors d’oeuvres but no booze (and insufficient Pellegrino) beneath the Inter-Continental’s chandeliers on Monday night. It was the New York eCommerce Association’s “ePanel” on the cheerful subject, “Differentiate or Die.” Marianne Howatson, ScreamingMedia EVP, stood in for her promised CEO Kevin Clark (in Florida, it was said, but not for the recount!); Craig Lambert, VP and Managing Director of Modem Media’s New York office, stood in for his CEO, G.M. O’Connell; while COO Jeffrey Cutler and founder and CEO Robert Levitan showed up as promised for a lively discussion. 

Attendees ranged from MoFo lawyers to Edelman PR reps to offshore software developers. Among the happiest: John R. Miller, Jr., whose AboutVoice voice recognition software (easing Chinese Internet access) just landed a round of Hong Kong venture capital funding. Don’t bother looking for investors close to home, agreed the panelists, who wore the proud but slightly hard-pressed aura of survivors. Since their companies are far from dead, asked chairperson Robin Kamen of Crain’s Interactive, what are their differentiators? Cutler crowed at being “the 13th largest B2B site and the most recognized brand in small business portals;” Howatson rejoiced in “making Web sites scream”; while Levitan sang the praises of “strategic prototyping” and Lambert focused on his clients’ “critical paths.”  Best secret of success, attributed by Cutler to hockey legend Wayne Gretsky: “I skate to where the puck is going to be, instead of where it is.”  No one remembered to remind investors of another quote from Gretsky: “You miss one hundred percent of the shots you never take.”