I recently did a series of interviews with chief executive officers about the next 10 years and how the Internet would change their business. Most of the interviews were with Global 2,500 CEOs-people like Harvey Golub at American Express. But 20% of my conversations were with the leaders of dot-coms. Yes, the traditional CEOs were scared by the Internet and were scrambling to catch up. But that wasn't what grabbed me. The biggest revelation was the low quality of the dot-com CEOs when compared with the traditionalists.
What was missing? Many of the dot-com CEOs lacked depth, experience, and common business sense. Their commitment was short-term-three years on the average. They talked about their highly fluid work force, a constantly changing cast of characters, washing in on the promise of more stock options and an IPO and then washing out, post-offering, in search of another pre-IPO company.