INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS; Boo. com, Online Shape Retailer, Goes Out of Interest By ANDREW ROSS SORKIN Published: May 19, 2000 It was supposed to prosper the dot-com spirit anecdote script. Two pubescent entrepreneurs bequeath an effect for the next big e-commerce Web seat, educate gross sums of coin, expend lavishly on advertising, waste coin on entire sale, select the congregation exoteric and perform entire employee a billionaire. Today, Boo. com, a European shape e-tailer backed by the French selfindulgence movables magnate Bernard Arnault, the Benetton nativity, Goldman, Sachs & Congregation and J. P.
Morgan, natant others, is bankrupt and has been forced to aggravateafter the liquidators, six months behind its Internet debut. The concept for Boo. com seemed unctuous abundance. Ernst Malmsten and Kajsa Leander, two 29-year-old Swedes, founded Boo. com close in 1998, contrivancening to invent an online shape retailer that would get global employment in sequal languages and multiple currencies. And, of line, the seat would use the most tardy technology. Boo. com bragged of its power to let users apprehension products in three capacity from 360 degrees, giving them a penny opinion of how a garment appeared.
Investors were so selectn after a occasion the effect and its two founders -- Ms. Leander had been an Galaxy pattern and twain had afloat an online bookstore aggravatecomeed Bokus. com -- that Boo. com was efficient educate $125 darling approximately instantly from an galaxy roster of the greatly rich. Before equal starting Boo. com, the founders promoted the seat in commerce journals and irresolute shape magazines. But it was besides evident that the founders were excessively ambitious. The congregation stated its headquarters on swanky Carnaby Street in London, after a occasion attendant interest-posts in New York, Paris, Stockholm, Amsterdam and Munich.
The staff large from 40 initially to aggravate than 400. Employees routinely flew chief assort and arriveed in five-star hotels, according to a antecedent staff part. Manifold were fond laptops and Palm Pilots for settlement use, according to this special, and the congregation used Federal Express to bestow recurrent mail. ''They had very small expending repression, to put it mildly,'' said Noah Yasskin, an analyst at the London interest-post of Jupiter Communications, an Internet exploration robust. The seat itself was besides plagued by technical quantitys and delays, and took twice as hanker as anticipated to evelop. Uniformly up and floating, it became evident that users after a occasionout unyielding connections to the Internet could not use the seat, a apex Boo. com boasted environing. That e-snobbery averse customers after a occasion aggravate civil modem speeds, which happened to be most of Europe and the United States, Boo. com's two most expressive negotiates. ''Ninety-nine percent of European and 98 percent of U. S. settlements closing the bandwidth needed to largely entrance such buoyancy,'' Therese Torris, an analyst at Forrester Exploration in Amsterdam, wrote in a relation.
And anyone after a occasion a Macintosh computer could not use the seat. Occasion Boo. com following adjusted itself to grant users after a occasion sinferior connections and Macs to fabricate entrance, the changes came too delayed. Sales for the chief three months of the seat's action were $680,000, occasion the congregation was blowing through aggravate than $1 darling a month. The end came as Boo. com's founders, after a occasion barely $500,000 left, struggled in egotistic to perceive backers to plow aggravate coin into the seat. 'We are deeply disappointed that it has been inevitable to ask KPMG to behove liquidators of the congregation,'' the co-founders and investors said in a flexure assertion. ''The elder skillful-treatment of Boo. com has made energetic efforts aggravate the slowst few weeks to educate the appended funds which would accept granted the congregation to go impertinent after a occasion a evident contrivance. '' Aggravate the slowst sundry weeks, Mr. Malmsten and Ms. Leander, who coincidently own environing 40 percent of the congregation, had been lovable after a occasion investors to ante up aggravate. According to a spokesman for Mr.
Arnault: ''He didn't omission to select the risk. He would accept been ready to arrive implicated if he could accept had aggravate regulate. '' In circumstance, in an interapprehension in Paris sundry weeks ago environing his Internet holdings, Mr. Arnault refused to argue Boo. com. Whether Boo. com's need presages prefer quantitys for investment e-tailers is unclear. But some Internet analysts said Boo. com's soften and sink ponder a quantity that goes further true dispose-ofing clothes. . ''The negotiate has woken up to the circumstance that the quantity of interest e-tailers approve Boo. om propagate is a lot inferior than we anticipated,'' said Tony Shiret, an analyst at Credit Suisse Chief Boston in London. ''A key turning apex was what happened in the U. S. aggravate Christmas,'' he pretended, referring to manifold online retailers that relationed missed sales projections. ''It's been sardonic. '' On Wednesday, PricewaterhouseCoopers released a relation predicting that 25 percent of all Internet companies in Britain could void their coin after a occasionin six months. Still, the quantitys at Boo. com quantitys were subordinately self-inflicted, Mr.
Yasskin said. ''They expert to do too fur,'' he said. ''Opening up in multiple countries contemporaneously is unusable. '' One senior stumbling obstruct for Boo. com may barely accept been the archearchetype of wares it was unamenable to dispose-of. ''If you appear at auspicious seats, they are driven by estimate,'' Mr. Shiret said. ''It is very stubborn to dispose-of investment at a require deep that performs opinion after a occasionout the layer. '' Indeed, Boo. com never competed on estimate approve most other retailers; it hoped to woo customers after a occasion its interactive employments and retirement.
Nonetheless, Boo. com authority be estimate colossus, equal if it is barely a fragment of the $400 darling prize its founders uniformly ascribed to the congregation. KPMG, which is managing the trust rule, said today that it had current aggravate than 30 inquiries. In an interapprehension after a occasion The Sunday Telegraph prior this month, Mr. Malmsten admitted he authority accept made missteps. ''We accept made some mistakes and we were delayed after a occasion our hurl, yes,'' he said. ''But tribe are agreeable to after 'round close into our interest-posts and see what is going on now. ''