Despite global tensions caused by solar flares, Y2K and Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan, "the good times are to continue, particularly for those involved in the Internet".
Such is the sentiment of Lou Dobbs, former host of CNN's Moneyline and now chairman and chief executive officer (CEO) of Internet startup Spacecom, at last week's Internet Commerce Expo keynote here.
'Pundits and mavens'
After being introduced by Mayor Willie Brown, Dobbs told his audience of about 400 to dismiss the so-called wisdom of "pundits and mavens" who are calling for the stock market and economy to slow down.
He said these naysayers, including Greenspan, haven't grasped the significance of the Internet in commerce, claiming that only 1 per cent of today's US retail sales conduct business over the Web. Dobbs said in five years, that could "hit 50 per cent".
Derrick Palmer, a developer at Nova Interactive of San Francisco, said he "shared [Dobbs'] optimism. But it will be a bumpy road."
According to Palmer, there will be a shakeout among Internet companies because, in part, "brick-and-mortar companies will have to invest in the Web". As traditional companies with brand recognition move online, they will be able to displace Internet startups that are trying to build businesses in their areas, Palmer said.
One of a trio of Web developers from Toyota Motor Credit, who asked not to be identified, was disappointed in Dobbs' speech. "I wanted to learn about Space.com," he said. "I love space." Space.com provides news and information about space and related subjects. It's supported by advertising and ancillary e-commerce initiatives, according to the site.
Whit Rambach, an e-business analyst for Arthur Andersen Consulting in California, said hearing about Space.com "would have been nice, but he was on target speaking to this group". The audience overall was more interested in hearing about the Internet economy than another startup, Rambach said.