A fledgling alters its flight path

Maybe they should start calling this operation (Actually, that name's taken - and by some software company, not the recent CBS television series.)

One year after our first visit to its headquarters, and six months since we last checked in, the small firm in our lead story is proving to be adept at sticking around, even amid a deep industry purge.

The company has a new name and a new site design. Some of the original players - including the first CEO - have moved on. There's a new air of maturity.

The "vice president of people," for example, is now the "director of business development."

Perhaps most important, a new business plan is in play. SimplyDone, as it's now known, still needs the Web to succeed. But the firm has spread its risk around.

Rather than go head-to-head with countless other Web-based warriors for "eyeball share," it has gone B2B, business to business, turning itself into a toolmaker for those still in the fray. Now, should one of its clients go under, plenty of others are out there to take its place. And SimplyDone's crew gets to keep on working.

The stability inherent in that plan ought to have an effect on workplace morale and recruiting. But is it indicative of a bigger trend? B2B, though by no means exempt from the shakeout - and likely headed toward real consolidation - is often hailed as the coming boom area online.

For firms like SimplyDone, there's also a certain security that comes with selling a real product (software) rather than a service.

It sounds so Old Economy. But the days when venture capital flowed like Mountain Dew at a skate park may be over. Virtual businesses may be getting real.

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(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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