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You may not know me or even my company, LivePerson, but you’ve certainly used my invention. In 1995, I came up with the technology for those chat windows that pop up on websites. Today, more than 18,000 companies around the world, including big-name brands like T-Mobile, American Express, Citibank and Nike, use our software to communicate with their millions of customers. Unlike most startup founders who saw the birth of the internet in the mid-1990s, I am still CEO of my company.
My longevity in this position gives me a unique perspective on the changes that have happened over the past two decades, and I see one happening right now that will radically transform the internet as we know it.
Websites - Mid-'90s - Dreams - E-commerce - Stores
When we started building websites in the mid-’90s, we had great dreams for e-commerce. We fundamentally thought all brick-and-mortar stores would disappear and everything dot-com would dominate. But e-commerce has failed us miserably. Today, less than 15 percent of commerce occurs through a website or app, and only a handful of brands (think: Amazon, eBay and Netflix) have found success with e-commerce at any real scale. There are two giant structural issues that make websites not work: HTML and Google.
The web was intended to bring humanity’s vast trove of content, previously cataloged in our libraries, to mass audiences through a digital user experience — i.e. the website. In the early years, we were speaking in library terms about “browsing” and “indexing,” and in many ways the core technology of a website, called HTML (Hypertext Markup Language), was designed to display static content — much like library books.
Stores - Libraries - Format - Stores - Consumers
But retail stores aren’t libraries, and the library format can’t be applied to online stores either. Consumers need a way to dynamically answer the questions that enable them to make purchases. In the current model, we’re...
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