Why Pets.com came to life in the first place
— Carolyn Everson, explaining in a video for CNN Money the feelings of heartbreak she had after she left Pets.com due to a clash with Wainwright over operations differences. Emerson ended up graduating from business school without a job, turning down multiple job offers due to the belief that she would be running Pets.com. Fortunately, it worked out for Everson, possibly better than anyone else involved with Pets.com: She's the VP of Global Marketing Solutions at Facebook.
"When I had to really abandon the dream of starting Pets.com, I have to be honest and tell you those first couple of weeks were devastating. I was really, really down and I wasn't quite sure what to do next. And then I realized that I am just graduating from B-school, I have great experience, I'm going to be an asset to another company. I had to get my feet back on the ground and get my confidence back."
Did Pets.com fail because it was too early? Its CEO once made the case in a comment thread
Recently, I read a story about an entrepreneur who did something very similar to what Greg McLemore did in 1994—a guy who bought the right domain at the right time.The guy's name? Warren Royal. The guy's domain? Bobbleheads.com. Royal has been around quite a long time, and spent time running BBSes before he got into the internet business. When the dot-com bubble burst, he left it for a while, and moved into another industry that knows a thing or two about bubbles: The mortgage industry.When the bubble burst there, Royal went back to the internet, looked around for interesting domains, and waited. Royal knew little to nothing about bobbleheads when he spent $29,000 on Bobbleheads.com in 2007. He just knew they were interesting."I didn't know a single thing about the bobblehead business, and wasn't exactly sure what I would do with it, but I knew it was the type of name that you could build a business around," Royal told DomainInvesting.com in 2008.He soon had success playing off the election year, and that success grew after he realized that there was an amazing business model to be had in custom-made bobbleheads—and he figured out that there were factories that could actually pull it off.Like Pets.com was way back when, Bobbleheads.com is a site known for stunts, like sending a Donald Trump bobblehead into the stratosphere. But that's where the similarities end. Bobbleheads.com is a site that has all of the advantages of knowing what happened in the past. Royal lived through two bubbles, so he knew the pitfalls. He slowly turned his great domain into a better business."Everything I did before was intangible—tech is intangible, mortgages are intangible, even the systems we bought during the internet craze were all intangible systems. This is tangible," he told The Huffington Postin 2012. "You can hold it in your hands and show it to people and take it home and see smiles on people's faces. It's very low tech, but something you can hold in your hand, which is far more fulfilling to me."I wonder if, had Pets.com tried to slow its roll when entering the market, we might be telling a different story today. Greg McLemore's prospecting instincts way back when were sound. But once venture capital money got involved, the goal seemed to be to become a major company as quickly as possible—a path that offers no room for failure.If they had made room for failure, maybe we wouldn't have gotten an entertaining sock puppet out of the deal. But Pets.com is too good a domain name to be relegated to use as a forwarding domain for PetSmart.If you don't want your business to have the lifespan of a gerbil, perhaps it's OK not to aim for insane heights. It's OK to aim lower—most people would be plenty happy with a hit bobblehead store, rather than a well-remembered online failure.It's just cat litter, after all.