Entertainment Weekly

Stay Connected

Subscribe

Advertise With Us

Learn More

Skip to content

Article

Will the Internet Change the Way We Shop?

Venture capitalist Ann Winblad takes digital stock

Posted on

When it was first formed in 1989 to invest solely in software start-ups, the San Francisco-based venture-capital firm of Hummer Winblad Venture Partners was an anomaly. While it’s now hard to imagine a new VC fund that doesn’t include software or Internet companies, Hummer Winblad has helped start some of the better known: Berkeley Systems, Liquid Audio, Pets.com, and Biztravel.com. We asked founding partner Ann Winblad (right), 49, to give us a preview of e-holidays to come. — NR

EW: How will the Web change the way we shop?

AW: We don’t want you to think differently; we want you to think like you think. I happen to have a successful career, so I’m fairly price-insensitive. Time is my enemy—I want it, and I want it now. I do not want to have nine clicks to get a gift for my mother. If I don’t know what to get, I want to have sites that are likely to know what I want to buy. I’m a big shopper at Dean & DeLuca — I buy presents for my parents there -— and they have the Net Perceptions recommendation engine installed. They tell me, ”We know if you buy this cheese, you’d likely buy this.” Instead of me putting together a dorky gift basket, I get one that suits my parents.

EW: Will e-commerce impact entertainment?

AW: We really are just seeing the tip of the explosion in digital music. We’re seeing things like ReplayTV and TiVo, the digital VCRs, come out for the first time. Packaged programming, I think, is going to go away in the next five years. You won’t channel surf; you’ll program your entertainment device for what you want. Everyone will have a much more personalized entertainment environment.

EW: Who will be the big online winners?

AW: The question is going to be, Who are the first losers? Because no one’s lost yet. And I do think that we will have the first losers show up somewhere in the next five years.

Comments