But losses mount for the home furnishings e-retailer that went public in October.
Donna L. Hoffman and Thomas P. Novak, award winning scholars of electronic commerce and Internet marketing at Vanderbilt University, will leave Vanderbilt in July to join the faculty at the University of California at Riverside’s A. Gary Anderson Graduate School of Management. Hoffman has been named chancellor’s chair and Novak the Albert O. Steffey professor of marketing.
Hoffman and Novak, who are married, currently serve as co-directors of Vanderbilt’s Sloan Center for Internet Retailing. The center, supported by a grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and corporations including founding partners Walmart.com and Lands’ End, will follow the industry experts to UC Riverside.
“A number of schools started efforts to recruit us last fall. We entered into discussions with a variety of schools and in the end UCR blew us away,” Hoffman says. “It’s the fastest growing university in California in the fastest growing region of the country, the Inland Empire. The university has a mandate to build its professional and management schools. They seek to elevate the status of the institution and a big part of that is focusing on the business school.
“The University of California at Riverside also boasts great engineering and computer science schools. So we can plug into a very strong technical community, which is really important for the center’s future.”
Once in California, the two professors will launch eLab 2.0, the second generation of the research laboratory they co-founded in 1994. The new Sloan Center will leverage eLab’s virtual lab research infrastructure to study the challenges facing the rapidly evolving Internet retailing industry.
Hoffman’s research focuses on Internet marketing strategy, consumer behavior in online environments and the policy implications of commercializing the Internet. Novak’s research explores web commerce issues such as the online consumer experience, online research methodology, Internet marketing strategy and electronic commerce policy issues including the digital divide, privacy and trust.
The couple plans to hire seven people for the new Sloan Center: four in marketing, two in entrepreneurial management and one in industrial organization.
“Not only is the move professionally attractive with a phenomenal opportunity to grow the center, it also will allow us to expand into events,” Hoffman adds. “Part of UCR is its Palm Springs/Palm Desert campus, located in one of the premier resort destinations in the world. Using the university’s campus there to hold industry events, seminars and training was really seductive when we were making our decision.”