• May 17, 2001

Web Extra: Decision Point

This Q&A with Escrow.com CEO Russell Stern was written to accompany "Show Me the Money" from the July 2001 issue of E-Business strategist.

Q: What is the key element of your e-business strategy?

A. We position ourselves as delivering the most comprehensive, trust-based transaction solutions on the Internet. Our three core company values are integrity, innovation and customer service.

Q. What most influenced your decision to introduce this new solution?
A. The inevitable evolution of e-commerce to the Internet. It is a very profound industrial revolution.

Q. Who is your inspiration for the strategic course you are planning?
A. Our grandparent company, Fidelity, is somewhat of a model. They took a business that was fragmented, inefficient and needed a third-party trust component and figured out how to automate it, make it more efficient, bring it online and develop strategic relationships that are extremely far-reaching with various real estate institutions and banks and so forth. To a large extent I think they serve as a model of a company that recognized a need in the marketplace and went after becoming the company's leader in it.

We also talk a lot about the large software and services companies, such as Oracle, PeopleSoft, Siebel, Sun and Microsoft, as obvious benchmarks for certain aspects of what they do and how they do it so well. We are quite inspired by those companies who are particularly focused on listening to their customers, having a unique and innovative approach to how they develop their software technology. They're highly productive.

Q. How will you measure your success in the future?
A. There are several milestones along the way to achieving profitability, or an IPO. I think the completion of our suite of products and the growth of our revenue throughout this year are better indicators of our probability of success this year than reaching cash flow neutrality. While we understand that needs to be on the radar screen, meeting our revenue goals and our development goals this year are more important.

As part of the planning effort, we are in the process of establishing goals not only in terms of returns to shareholders but goals for measuring customer satisfaction. I think the key one there will be customer retention. Equally important are reaching goals of satisfaction within our employee base. If you're hitting on all those three areas--especially when you're talking about a company like ours that is so young and so small--you clearly have achieved a measure of success.

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