By the time he was 16, Michael Rubin was more than $US200,000 in debt with his
discount ski-equipment business.
Although his parents wanted him to go to college, Rubin dropped out after six weeks to focus on his business, which eventually merged with then publicly traded athletic shoe company Ryka to form what would later be known as GSI Commerce, writes Catherine Clifford at Entrepreneur.com.
It was the late ’90s when an analyst called to ask Rubin what he was going to do about the internet. Rubin brushed him off, saying: “Oh, don’t waste my time. It’s all these young kids who lose lots of money. They barely do any revenue and the only thing they are good at is losing money. Don’t waste my time with this internet thing. I have no interest.”
But Rubin started thinking about it more once he got off the phone and called CEOs of his competitors, including Modell’s and the Sports Authority, to see how they felt.
He realised that although no one understood the internet at the time, a lot of people were talking about it. This spelled out opportunity for Rubin. In 1999, he started developing an internet strategy for his company, well ahead of the crowd. About a decade later, Rubin sold his company to
eBay for $US2.4 billion and went on to purchase three e-commerce businesses: licensed sports merchandiser Fanatics, fashion flash sale site Rue La La, and retail benefits program Shop Runner.
Today, Rubin is 41-years-old and worth $US2.7 billion. He serves as executive chairman on each of his companies’ boards.
Rubin tells Clifford that he’s currently focused on improving the mobile applications for these sites.
“I think about the way e-commerce disrupted retail,” he says. “Mobile is going to change e-commerce the way e-commerce changed traditional retail.”
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