Time to make dotcom move
IT executives wanting to join a dotcom company as chief technology officer may have only six months to make their move, according to recruitment specialists.

David Bicknell

Although UK dotcom start-ups are currently being stifled by a lack of skilled IT staff, the window of opportunity for "bricks and mortar"-based executives to move on is closing.

The benefits of moving can be persuasive, with dotcoms offering tempting share options.

Top-notch IT staff are currently being taken on even if they lack e-business experience, but within a year dotcoms will expect candidates to have demonstrated practical experience of e-business, said a leading e-commerce headhunter.

For IT staff reluctant to leave the security of the corporate environment, and afraid of going to a "duff dotcom", headhunters suggest they should do their homework.

Louise Campbell, managing director of headhunting specialist the Venture Partnership, said, "You must ask some basic questions such as 'are you funded, and by whom?' If you discover that your prospective employer has one of the big venture capital firms behind them, it's a fair assumption that they've done the due diligence on the business plan.

"Look for names which are really active in the industry and have lots of business plans to choose from."

Campbell also suggested investigating the management team and its experience.

"All too often we see great new ideas which are funded, but the people who are running the companies have no track record in that vertical market. For a really safe bet go for older, serial entrepreneurs with an existing track record," she said.

How to avoid duff dotcoms

  • Do your homework. Find out how companies are funded. If they have large venture capital companies behind them, they are a safer bet
  • Look at the management team and its experience. If they have built a company before, or reached a senior position in a big company with responsibility for people and profits, they can do it again
  • Interrogate the business model. Is it an Internet company able to compete in the market after the start-up gloss and newness has come off? Or is it a new business model, which really embraces the medium such as LetsBuyIt.com or Lastminute.com
  • Look for ambitious expansion plans from European start-ups. If they are not planning to roll out quickly, they will be an hors-d'oeuvre for a US dotcom at best
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    This was first published in February 2000

     

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