Forbes recently coined a new term in reference to family business offspring who lead their organization’s E-commerce initiatives. The term is “cyberscion” and Forbes applies it to J. Daniel Nordstrom, 37, who is developing Nordstrom.com as the “world’s biggest shoe store.” The $5.2 billion retailer was founded as a shoe store in 1901 by Dan’s great-grandfather.
Now we’re seeing cyberscions everywhere we look. Jared Schutz joined his parents’ Blue Mountain Arts to build value in the $60 million (revenues) greeting card company’s busy online site. About 9 million people visit the site monthly to send free electronic greeting cards. Despite the lack of revenue, Excite At Home paid $780 million for Bluemountain.com – $430 million in stock and $350 million in cash.
At Arnold Katz Photography in New York City, son David Katz, 25, pushed his father, Arnold, 63, into investing in digital photography which transmits photos via computer, improving company sales, profitability and family relations.
James Murdoch, 27, heads the Murdoch family’s News Corp.’s global digital media arm.
Marc Gabelli, 32, manages six Gabelli asset management mutual funds including the global growth fund which is fund of tech stocks.
Todd McCormack, 39, works with his dad Mark’s International Management Group, a sports management company. Todd handles net strategies for Tiger Woods, Wimbleton, Brazil’s National Soccer Team, Manchester United, and other sports giants.
Mark Getty, 39, grandson of J. Paul Getty, is commercializing the family’s passion for art (see Getty Museum, Los Angeles) with Getty Images and Art.com where which customers can click on masterpieces and frames for home delivery.
The phenomenon is global. In Hong Kong Richard Li, 33, is building Cyber-Port project, starting satelite broadband service and investing in dot-coms. His father, Li Ka Shing, heads Hutchison Whampoa and Cheng Kong groups (retail, telecom, property, infrastructure).
Jeff Koo, Jr., 35, is developing Chinatrust’s e-commerce strategy including broadband, on line trading and business portals. His father heads Chinatrust Commercial Bank, Taiwan’s top private financial institution.
The cyberscion trend even encompasses new family businesses, although the traditional generational arrangement may be reversed.
When 20-something Harvard-MBA Adam Kanner founded Edu.com, a web site where college students can buy everything they need for school, he went after venture capital and the best chief operating officer he could find. Among his first investors was his grandfather who put up a third of the initial $150,000 investment. For COO he got a mature, experienced executive whose credentials included senior vice presidencies at Bank Boston and Bank of New England...his mother.
Now with 55 employees and 30 vendors, Kanner has collected over $3.5 million in venture capital but doesn’t expect a profit until at least 2002.
We are often asked whether the internet means the end of family businesses. The evidence clearly suggested that ebusiness can be a welcomed addition to the family creating opportunities for the younger generation to provide leadership in adding value.