ZOOM: How 13 Exceptional Companies Are Navigating the Road to the Next Economy

James M. Citrin, Author, Tom Neff, With
James M. Citrin, Author, Tom Neff, With . Random $24.95 (272p) ISBN 978-0-385-50131-6
Reviewed on: 01/07/2002
Release date: 01/01/2002
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The snide answer to the subtitle is "not very well." Enron has collapsed amid allegations of accounting fraud and management self-dealing. Soapbox.com did not survive 2000. A $10,000 investment in three other companies (Yahoo!, Akamai and Commerce One) in January 2000 would be worth $400 today. Unluckily, Citrin picked his 13 companies in 2000 and had the hubris to boast how much they had outperformed the S&P 500 at that point. But past performance does not guarantee future returns, and stockholders of these companies have lost 83% of their investment since the beginning of 2000, while the S&P 500 is down only 21%. Of the 13 companies, only eBay has managed to beat the index. Despite these companies' failures, there is much useful information here. Thoughtful interviews with 17 innovative business people are presented with minimal intrusion from the author, and broad themes abound: embrace change, encourage risk taking and obsess about customers. However, the executives differ in how these tenets are implemented in different industries and organizations. For example, George Conrades of Akamai likes to share his vision with employees, then measure how well they can realize that vision; he sees himself as a referee. But Tim Koogle of Yahoo! stresses hiring people who will bring their own visions and views himself as a coach. And John Chambers of Cisco focuses on acquiring companies whose employees have already developed the skills Cisco needs, as if he were a team owner. Although this business management book carries an albatross (the failures of its subjects), it nonetheless has merit. Agent, Rafe Sagalyn. (Feb. 1)

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