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Andrew Allentuck
Friday, April 27, 2001

Three Clicks Away: Advice from the Trenches of eCommerce
by Michael Drapkin, John Lowy, and Daniel Marovitz
John Wiley & Sons, 238 pages

In the midst of the e-business meltdown that has crushed the stock market valuations of dot coms, Three Clicks Away asserts that, with the right strategy, an e-business can succeed. Michael Drapkin, a consultant to big corporations, together with Deutsche Bank webmeisters John Lowy and Daniel Marovitz, says that when one combines the right architecture, human resources and procedures with the right maestro running the whole show, it should all come together.

This is up from the bottom advice to those who would like to be the next eBay; and, obviously, there are going to be a lot of failed hopes along the way. Top on the list of roads to failure, the authors say, are e-business rationales such as "your idea came to you in the shower. You discussed it with your pals at bowling. They like it." and "You want to sell music or books on the web, or to any other already crowded market."

The authors list sources of capital from friends and family to investment banks. They discuss the initial public offering, a long-forgotten (in e-time) practice of getting cash from investors who would believe that an idea with no cash flow can pay profits someday. But IPOs will return, the authors assure, because, in spite of the flops of many pioneering efforts, you just can't keep a good idea down forever. But beware of the sin of hubris. "Just because you obtained money or funding doesn't mean you will succeed," they say.

Three Clicks Away is the first of many books that will say that e-business can rise again from the ashes of dot com rubble. Create firms that make sense as businesses, embed every website in a strategy that makes solid sense, and wait for the eventual return, urge the authors. For entrepreneurs who want to avoid the errors of the first dot com boom, Three Clicks Away is an entree to the second, if it happens.

Shelf Life
Martin Levin
Margaret Cannon
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Paperbacks H.J. Kirchhoff
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Andrew Allentuck

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