Here’s a fantastic flashback Laurence Jarvick dug up on New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman.
Back in 1999, Friedman said Amazon was completely doomed because it was someone could recreate Amazon.com in their bedroom.
Whoops! Win some predictions, lose some predictions, we suppose:
Friedman in the NYT: Testifying before Congress Tuesday, Alan Greenspan wouldn’t exactly come out and say that there was a little irrational exuberance behind some of the Internet stocks, but he said these share prices had reached levels that gave him ”concerns.”
Well, if you really want to be ”concerned” about the levels of some of these profitless Internet stocks, such as Amazon.com, you should pay less attention to Mr. Greenspan and more attention to what’s going on in a small house in Cedar Falls, Iowa.
There, a single Iowa family, headed by Lyle Bowlin, is re-creating Amazon.com in a spare bedroom. I tell you this not because they’re an immediate threat to Amazon.com, but to underscore just how easy it is to compete against Amazon.com, and why therefore I’m dubious that Amazon and many other Internet retailers will ever generate the huge profits that their stock prices suggest.
Lyle Bowlin is the director of the Small Business Development centre at the University of Northern Iowa. He is also a book lover. But having grown up in small Iowa towns, he has always regretted that he never had access to a good independent bookstore, with lots of titles. When the Internet and Amazon.com came along, said Mr. Bowlin, ”I realised that in my spare time I could create a virtual independent bookstore.”