Corrections or additions?
These articles by Melinda Sherwood and Barbara Fox were published
in U.S. 1 Newspaper on September 8, 1999. All rights reserved.
Eyes on E-Business: netGenesis.com
Business via the Internet is like trying to sell a product
from the wrong side of a one-way mirror: It’s impossible to see the
customer, but somehow, you have to find out what they want. Even businesses
on the cutting edge of Web technology are still, in many respects,
Leave it up to a couple of MIT alumni to create "glasses"
for webpreneurs. Eric Richard and Matt Cutler, both computer
science majors at MIT, developed software that allows businesses to
"watch" people on the Web. The technology answers questions
like: Where are my customers coming from, and what part of my website
are they most attracted to. Richard and Cutler, who already had a
healthy consulting business running from their dorm rooms, founded
netGenesis.com in 1995. Now they whisper in the ears of clients ranging
from Charles Schwab and IBM to Princeton University.
"One of the mantras around here is you cannot manage that which
you can’t measure," says Richard, a guest speaker at the Association
of Internet Professionals meeting on Wednesday, September 15, at 6
p.m. at the Sarnoff Corporation. The seminar, "What you can find
out about your Web Traffic," is free and open to the public. Call
Before he even graduated, Richard (MIT, Class of 1995) wrote one of
the first books on back-end website construction, "How to Build
a Website." One of his first clients, he recalls, was ESPN. "They
had heard of the Web, but they didn’t know what it could offer them,"
he says. "We were hired guns to help people develop their Web
The situation is only slightly different today. People certainly know
what the Web can offer, but few know how to get there, says Richard.
"I was visiting a client," he recalls, "and he said, `Look
around this space — you see people developing content, buying
ads, and all of this money is being spent. But we can’t tell you where
that money is going or how effective it is. We couldn’t tell you whether
it’s even appropriate content or not. The bottom line is we’re going
to be measured by the effectiveness of our website and we don’t know
how to measure it.’"
NetGenesis software, which starts at about $15,000, uses "cookies"
to track users on a given website. Harte Hanks, a market research
firm, helps netGenesis formulate gigs and gigs of data in terms of
standard market research at warp speed. "Run a marketing campaign
and get an analysis back in six months," says Richard. "If
it’s an online campaign, get results back in an hour."
Tracking hits to your website just isn’t enough, says Richard. "It’s
about quality of information," says Richard. "Businesses need
to know who buys and who doesn’t, and what’s the difference between
those two groups." Also, he adds, businesses need to know which
promotional efforts get responses, and what portions of the website
are most successful, so that you can reallocate resources accordingly.
For example, a popular webpage can be brought to a higher tier within
the overall site, and writers or designers can fashion content in
response to demand.
How will customers feel about being watched? "You have to be able
to position in the way that it’s valuable to the end user," says
Richard. "If they feel they are conferring information to the
vendor, and getting back, then that’s a trade off." Richard also
says that netGenesis cannot track consumers once they have left the
website, acquire a user’s name, E-mail, address or phone number, or
identify the consumer’s surfing habits. "I can’t tell you if a
person coming to our site also spends a lot of time on ESPN. There
are companies out there who do provide that functionality, but we
Understanding trends on just one website is enough, Richard believes,
to help consumers and businesses come to a new understanding of each
other. "The Walmarts of the world spend huge amounts of money
trying to understand their customers," says Richard. "The
Web is clearly a whole new way to interact with customers."
— Melinda Sherwood
The day that Eastwind Airlines announced the bad news
— that Tuesday, September 7, would be the final day its flights
left Trenton Mercer Airport — another airline was waiting in the
wings with good news. Shuttle America, the airport’s remaining
carrier, is introducing service to Boston, reviving the popular route
that Eastwind Airlines was forced to cancel earlier this summer.
Mark R. Cestari, vice president of marketing for Shuttle
is starry-eyed about being the airport’s sole carrier, despite the
fact that the airport appears to be fated to doomed airlines. In an
interview with the Times of Trenton, Cestari said he expects the
flight will be "at least as good" as the Buffalo flight, which
is already filling 52 percent of seats — more than needed to break
even, he says.
Eastwind is the 10th carrier to close down operations at Ewing airport
since 1983, when United began offering flights. Other short-term
Holiday Airlines, Ransome Air, Henson Air, JetStream, USAir, and
Air. None lasted as long as Eastwind, which moved in in 1995, but
the Greensboro-based company lost nearly $33 million during that time.
Fed up, airline owners U.M Holdings in Haddonfield fired president
Terry Hallcom and brought in consultants to sell off what
When a potential sale fell through, however, they decided to
service altogether. The company is still looking for a buyer, at a
minimum bid of $10 million. The operating certificate from the Federal
Aviation Administration and access to two leased Boeing 737s is also
Shuttle America does not fly 737s. Instead, the airline uses the more
economical 50-seat turbo-props, which may be one reason the company
can afford to stay in the air. Other recent moves include suspending
service to Norfolk, Virginia, adding a fourth flight on the daily
Buffalo route, maintaining service from Wilmington, Delaware to
and, of course, adding service to Boston.
Beginning September 28, Shuttle America will offer four flights daily
between Ewing and Hanscom Field in Bedford, Massachusetts — not
Logan, the national airport that Eastwind flew in to. Hanscom Field
is roughly 30 minutes away from Boston proper on along Route 128,
the region’s high-tech corridor. Flights leave Trenton Mercer daily
at 6:40 a.m., 11:10 a.m., 2:55 p.m., and 5:50 p.m. An introductory
fare of $49 is available for those who make reservations during
and it will remain $49 for passengers booking 21 days in advance.
For short notice, the fare is $89. Walk-ons pay $129.
08628. 860-386-4200; fax, 860-386-4399. Home page:
Don’t criticize, condemn, or complain. That is one of
the aphorisms offered by Dale Carnegie in his benchmark book
"How to Make Friends and Influence People." A U.S. 1 reader
who took the Dale Carnegie Training course years ago says he still
remembers that motto. All the students in his class had to pick one
of the sayings in the book and carry it in their wallets for the
of the course. "That made me a much more positive person,"
says this former student.
In this area new sections of the Dale Carnegie Training course start
on Tuesday, September 14, at 8:30 a.m. at Rhodia on Prospect Plains
Road and on Wednesday, September 29, at 6 p.m. at the Somerset
Each weekly session lasts 3 1/2 hours, and the 12-week course costs
$1,650 (including breakfast) in Cranbury and $1,550 in Somerset. Call
George Contos for information at 732-422-0500. Contos promises
you will learn the following:
greater sensitivity and genuine interest in others and their ideas,
and to develop a more assertive take-charge attitude.
and speak confidently.
be more flexible in managing and motivating others.
friendlier, more outgoing.
to understand different approaches to people problems.
improvement plan, to strengthen commitment with a more enthusiastic
approach to career goals.
would cost about $37 an hour. Is it worth it? Ask a sponsor, who will
surely tell you how some Carnegie alumni were promoted to jobs brought
raises of $10,000 or more. Or you can ask a former student, one who
learned how to not criticize, condemn, or complain.
Corrections or additions?
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