August 27, 2008, 12:00 AM

New capital wave

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Likewise, SellPoint’s CEO Martin is a former retail executive from Sears and Gap Inc., and Bag Borrow or Steal is headed by CEO Mike Smith, a former CEO of Lands’ End who also served in senior executive positions at Nordstrom.com and Classmates.com.

Madrona Ventures, which had recruited Smith to serve as CEO of Classmates, decided to back Bag Borrow or Steal partly because Smith was already its CEO when Madrona entered the picture. “An e-commerce company can have a good plan, but if it doesn’t also have a good top executive it can still lose out,” Goodrich says. “We like to back people we’ve had experience with, and with Smith’s experience in e-commerce and the Classmates.com subscription model, we figured he was a natural for Bag Borrow or Steal.”

Learn from the past

Indeed, e-commerce companies and their executives striving to get established on a growth curve today and attract venture capital can learn from the success stories from the early days of online retailing, when e-retailers like Amazon and web-only jewelry retailer Blue Nile Inc. worked through the downturn of the Internet investment boom, Goodrich says.

“If you deliver the right product and the right customer experience, customers will come,” Goodrich says. “Amazon and Blue Nile continued to grow even when times were tough, and Google raised its last round of funding in 2001, when it was unclear it would succeed and everyone thought the e-commerce sky was falling. A lot of companies had their early stages in periods of economic turmoil, but those who live through it experience the greatest benefit once the economy improves. ” l

paul@verticalwebmedia.com

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