A dot.com Story from Concept to Catastrophe
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Boo Hoo by Ernst Malmsten
Book Descriptionboo hoo is a gripping, insider's account of the rise and fall of this most controversial of internet startups - a global, online retailer of sports and designer clothes.
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Book DetailsISBN: 9780099418375
(197mm x 130mm x 25mm)
Imprint: Random House Business Books
Publish Date: 6-Jun-2002
Country of Publication: United Kingdom
UK Kirkus Review » Boo.com, the online fashion retailer, was launched amidst a blaze of publicity in autumn 1999 - and collapsed the following May. Co-founder of the company Ernst Malmsten is candid in this personal account of boo's short life. He readily acknowledges naive decisions, clashes of approach and instances where less vodka and grapefruit and more early nights might have meant meetings were handled better. But he also ensures readers appreciate the hard work and background research undertaken and the prejudices and obstacles encountered, in an attempt to mitigate the myth that all the dot.com ventures that bombed so dramatically at the end of the 1990s were poorly thought-out youthful fantasies devoid of underlying substance. Proactive in spotting a niche market, Malmsten had successfully undertaken a number of projects, including an on-line book retailer in his native Sweden, before embarking on boo. Ex-model and fellow Swede Kajsa Leander became his business partner in the early days, then with Patrik Hedelin they began to build the company itself. Ambitious technical targets were set to ensure they would be the first web e-tailer in their field. But the trip to success is never an easy ride. 'No matter what happens, the investor is always your enemy,' warned financier Jeffrey Leeds at the outset. A great idea, commitment and boundless enthusiasm were ultimately no substitute for cash. Supporters can quickly turn away. Funding, personality clashes, software issues, website delays and glitches in the hardware platform were to conspire to bring boo.com to its knees at exactly the wrong time, sending its founders to seek further funds from investors just as the dot.com bubble burst. The book is a compelling story of the first high-profile casualty of the e-tailing revolution. The level of detail is sometimes overwhelming. However, the passion of Malmsten, Kajsa Leander, their team and those they inspired shines through until the bitter end. (Kirkus UK)
US Kirkus Review » Riches-to-rags tale of an innovative European Internet concern. Malmsten, co-founder of online fashion and sports retailer boo.com, wrote this warts-and-all account because he realized it "could serve to capture all the broken dreams of the dot.com era." In 1993 he began working with childhood friend and former model Kajsa Leander to promote Nordic literary events in New York. This led to their establishing a Swedish publishing house, then an early bookselling Web site that they sold for millions, instilling the desire to do "something really ambitious." They seized upon the idea of a fashion website, since consumers spend more on clothes than on entertainment, with higher profit margins, and finding cutting-edge sportswear was at the time difficult in much of Europe. Malmsten depicts what followed in exhaustive detail. The partners had great success in developing a business plan and site prototype to attract high-end funding but didn't realize the pitfalls that lay ahead. Well before their technology platform was established, let alone the 3-D imaging capability that lured investors, they'd hired more than a hundred people in London, established offices in New York, Stockholm, Paris, and Munich, and started a fully staffed online magazine. The site's launch was repeatedly delayed, yet the "street" valuation of the company kept skyrocketing. But then bankers delayed the IPO due to diminished confidence, which resulted in the first round of mass layoffs, and eventually ceased the large cash infusions that sustained the profligate company. This cautionary tale illuminates how youthful Internet visionaries secured pie-in-the-sky infusions of capital from companies like J.P. Morgan and LVMH. However, they must also endure endless besotted recollections of the good life and heedless overspending; Malmsten's obsessive name-dropping of luxury brands and yearning recollections of the snooty club/hotel scene indicate just what the so-called "revolution" was all about for him. Despite the preening tone, a useful business history and a panoramic view of the foolhardy excesses of the late 1990s. (Kirkus Reviews)
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Author Biography - Ernst Malmsten
Ernst Malmsten: born in Sweden and knew Kajsa in kindergarten. He met her again outside a Paris nightclub in 1992. The two of them made millions by selling their first internet venture, bokus.com, to Bertelsmann (bol.com). Kajsa Leander: also born in Sweden, and 'discovered' by the famous Elite modelling agency. She modelled for two years at all the major catwalk shows, and made all the covers of the top magazines including Elle and Vogue. Erik Portanger has been staff reporter at the Wall Street Journal for 18 months and has been a journalist for over 10 years. Before working for the WSJ, he was a senior correspondent for the AP Dow Jones News Service for 5 years.
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