A few days back, the founder of online grocery Webvan submitted the high bid, at least so far, to buy back the remains of his once-glorious creation.
For the paltry sum of US$2.5 million, Louis Borders stands to get Webvan’s technology platform, the foundation on which he once hoped to build a company that would change the shopping world.
The bid could say one of many things: Maybe Borders is still a believer in the power of his e-commerce platform to alter our lives. Or maybe he’s got a specific idea in mind for how to use the technology to better ends.
One final possibility is most intriguing, though: What if Borders is simply a sentimental guy, unwilling to let just any vulture swoop in to pick his brainchild off the heap?
Webvan was once the head of the class, after all — the most likely to succeed. Maybe Borders isn’t ready to give up on it just yet.
Join the Club
He’s not alone, of course. Buy.com founder Scott Blum has ridden to the rescue and provided the funding to stave off certain death for his company. And he’s not going to let his baby go down without a fight.
Buy.com recently announced a redesign of its home page, a new low price guarantee and a $5,000 giveaway promotion to drive traffic to the site, which, analysts say, still has an incredibly steep uphill battle to stay alive.
It’s going on all the time. Sales-lead generation site TrueAdvantage.com merged with content site LocalBusiness.com last year. When LocalBusiness filed for bankruptcy, the founder of TrueAdvantage bought his assets back. He then bought most of the remaining LocalBusiness assets.
Meanwhile, Web message boards have been abuzz with rumors that Kozmo, which folded in April, will try to mount a comeback in New York City.
Smart or Sappy?
Make no mistake: These salvage efforts might just be good business decisions.
After all, it’s easy to understand why these individuals would be more convinced than others of the value of the firms they brought to life themselves. No one, after all, has better insight into the markets, the players, than these guys.
But I don’t think that’s all there is to it. After all, in some cases, the founders had long since cut day-to-day ties with their foundlings. And times have, to state the obvious, changed dramatically since these dot-coms were startups.
No, it seems to me these founders weren’t ready to close the history books on their creations just yet.
The instinct is a good sign for the so-called New Economy. That entrepreneurs still have the fire, still have the belief, and are still willing to put their money on the line, bodes well for online business.
Will consumers stand by e-commerce? It remains to be seen. But the founders of e-commerce are leading the way — even if they are leading with their emotions.
Note: The opinions expressed by our columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the E-Commerce Times or its management.