Review

Dotcom Divas: E-Business Insights from the Visionary Women Founders of 20 Net Ventures

by Elizabeth Carlassare

In
the five years that I have been running The Book Report Network, I
have been surprised at the scarcity of women running Internet
businesses. Many times I have been the only woman to come to the
table for a meeting. For all the "equality" of the Internet it's
still been one tough road for women to travel. Being a new medium I
assumed that this would be different, but I have been at many
high-level corporate meetings, seminars, and panels where the
numbers of speakers were so skewed male that there actually was
criticism from the audience.
As a
result, discovering Carlassare's book was a pleasure. Some of the
female entrepreneurs profiled I know personally; others I have long
admired. Eugenie Diserio from Astronet and Candice Carpenter and
Nancy Evans from iVillage were originally funded by AOL's
Greenhouse, just like The Book Report Network. It's been
interesting to track where we all have gone along the
way.
The
book is well-organized in sections that discuss portal, content,
and community ventures like iVillage, Astronet, and ThirdAge Media;
web-based service ventures like NetCreations and EDGAR Online;
e-Commerce ventures like Della.com and Sparks.com; and e-Business
applications and web technology ventures like Marimba and
RightWorks. As the Internet is a global medium, it's great to see
two overseas properties as part of the mix.
For
each business, there is a profile that includes the Business Model,
followed by Top Three Lessons Learned and Key Strategic Take-Aways
from each founder. These three sections are chockfull of enough
advice to make the book worth a look. There is nothing in this
business like the advice from those in the trenches. Over the past
years so much valuable advice has come from my peers, as they know
the intricacies of building a business where shifts in strategy
happen weekly.
Carlassare has managed to take a very diverse group of
businesses and tell a great story about them. Each chapter is
succinct, and they need not be read in order. After reading the
sections of people I know, which proved the credibility of the book
to me, I found myself exploring the others in random
order.
The
volatility of the market has taken its toll on many of these
businesses, just as it has on the rest of the dot.com sector. But
for having been in the space, these entrepreneurs have a snapshot
of the industry unlike any of those still hanging on the outside
looking in. In fact, a headhunter called a few weeks ago looking to
fill a high-level job and was quick to tell me that they eagerly
would entertain a candidate from a failed dot.com, just for his or
her experience.
The
best part of any conference is hearing the heads of companies talk
about what worked --- and what did not. The stories in this book
are very upbeat, and I wish there had been one more section ---
"the one big mistake I made" or "what I would have done
differently." Every entrepreneur has a story like that, and often
the best lessons come from those moments.
Carlassare has assembled a terrific appendix of resources, as
well as a list of Net Biz Buzzwords that will ensure that even a
casual reader will have a better take on the medium once they
finish the book. While the advice here is very Internet-related,
much of it is applicable to any number of entrepreneurs out
there.
Do
note that I quibble with the title of this book --- no definition
that I found of diva defines who these women are. They are not
prima donnas --- this business cannot tolerate an extremely
sensitive, vain, or undisciplined person. If anything, these women
are more like cowgirls kicking their boots through a lot of muck,
often trying to tame some pretty wild horses who buck and toss.
Over the years I often have joked that I am going to buy myself a
pair of cowboy boots. This is one tough business that absorbs a
founder 24/7, and every one of these 20 women knows the risks when
you take your eye off the ball. Not one of these women should be
taken lightly, and their advice is not to be dismissed.

Reviewed by Carol Fitzgerald on January 21, 2011

Dotcom Divas: E-Business Insights from the Visionary Women Founders of 20 Net Ventures
by Elizabeth Carlassare

  • Publication Date: December 6, 2000
  • Genres: Business, Nonfiction
  • Hardcover: 274 pages
  • Publisher: McGraw-Hill Companies
  • ISBN-10: 0071362428
  • ISBN-13: 9780071362429