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Kim Fisher

      . . .CEO and Co-Founder, AudioBasket.com, providing personalized audio news-on-demand. Prior to AudioBasket.com, Ms. Fisher was Director of Strategic Business for Synacom Technology, Inc., and Senior Marketing Manager in Motorola‚s International Joint Venture division. With an MBA from UC-Berkeley‚s Haas School of Business, she was co-founder of one of Lithuania‚s first web page design companies and has two patents pending for innovations in communications software.

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      Information overwhelms us.  People are increasingly eager to control the source and subject of the things to which we do choose to listen. It‚s an ideal niche for an aggressive young Internet company. It is also the future of radio, according to Kim Fisher, CEO and co-founder of AudioBasket.com -- news radio, customized to an individual‚s taste and interests, drawn from prestigious news sources.

      AudioBasket.com could not have existed without the power of the Internet, declares Ms. Fisher.  But the Internet is extremely time-sensitive and technology-dependent, so trailblazers are especially challenged. How does one do market research for an entirely new product and still get to market?  It‚s tough, says Ms. Fisher, but AudioBasket.com believes in market research (most dotcoms skip it.) And leaping obstacles is the entrepreneur‚s hallmark, she reminds us. The test, says this 30-something CEO, is to stay focused while moving with and learning from the market. When consumers did not rush to MP3 players as expected, AudioBasket.com found alternative delivery systems -- Web audio on computers, cell phones, wireless, in addition to MP3.

      Instead of competing with clutter or duplicating millions spent by others marketing their websites, AudioBasket.com forms partnerships. Prestigious news and information websites feature AudioBasket.com links -- sites including the BBC, „Financial Timesš and CNNRadio. Customers find AudioBasket.com so AudioBasket.com doesn‚t have to find customers. Since there‚s no need to leave the partner‚s page while one listens, everybody‚s happy -- customer, partner, AudioBasket.com.

      Kiss five-year business plans goodbye.  Internet businesses are works in progress. Constantly. Each decision requires a separate analysis. And everyone‚s watching, customers and competition alike. AudioBasket.com‚s formal internal strategy meetings are quarterly, and critical decisions are moment to moment. So „teamworkš is not rhetorical. Skills, experience, enthusiasm and energy are required, whether the cubicles at AudioBasket.com‚s burgeoning San Francisco facility sport pictures of grandkids or newly minted college diplomas.

      Kim Fisher probably is not what most people think when they hear „Internet entrepreneur.š No „exit strategyš here -- she‚s in it for the long haul (though her investors no doubt have a „liquidity eventš in mind.) Ms. Fisher is unconventional in őNetland for other reasons, too: she believes in making a profit; in considering the interests of current investors when raising capital; in business cases and cost-effectiveness and, yes, in market research.

      Is there a secret? Yes, Ms. Fisher assures us.  Networks. They are, she believes, at the center of creating good companies and good products. Information and skills from within the company must build on a much wider network of people and organizations. For AudioBasket.com, it was business partners, media partners, lawyers, accountants, business incubators, and investors.  So never, ever, ever be caught without your business card!

Conversation 1

Kim Fisher tells Paula Gordon and Bill Russell what AudioBasket.com means by „Choose to be Informed.š Ms. Fisher describes how AudioBasket approaches today‚s abundance of information. She links the newness of her company to the newness of the need they are meeting.


Conversation 2

Ms. Fisher describes the role of market research in her Internet company. She balances it against the need to get to market quickly, describing how technology complicates the process. She highlights the importance of their partnering arrangements. She gives examples of how people might use AudioBasket, how it distinguishes itself in the information marketplace. Timing and rapidly changing technologies are critical, says Ms. Fisher, with industry and personal examples. She addresses consumer discomfort with new technologies, declaring ease and seamlessness as the goals of technologies.


Conversation 3

Why AudioBasket chose audio over text is explained, both from the perspective of users and website partners. Ms. Fisher describes how customers use AudioBasket‚s services. The challenge of doing market research on an entirely new product is considered and contrasted to companies for whom the Internet is only a new distribution mode.  Ms. Fisher describes the difficulty of learning what potential customers want before a service exists. The Internet itself, she says, supports attempts to understand the customer base, with examples. She elaborates on the entrepreneurial aspects of her company. She describes how AudioBasket.com approaches business decisions. She notes the Internet‚s powerful competitive forces. She gives credit to and describes her corporate teammates.


Conversation 4

Ms. Fisher describes the rich mix of people and organizations a successful company requires. She explains why she believes her company continues to be able to raise capital. She adheres to traditional success factors, including the necessity for a company to make money. She describes how business incubators work. She explains the responsibility to protect current shareholders‚ investment. She describes AudioBasket‚s long-term strategy. The Women‚s Technology Cluster (business incubator) is described. Ms. Fisher notes incubators‚ benefits, with caveats. She describes other entrepreneurial ventures in which she has been involved.


Conversation 5

Ms. Fisher recalls her experience in and love for Lithuania. She points out that AudioBasket currently serves the U.S. market but people all over the world are accessing their service, especially Americans and English-speakers abroad. She notes markets into which her company might expand. Ms. Fisher addresses the need to balance between being able to choose exactly what one wants and being open to more general information.  She uses her own choices for an example. She describes the make-up of Silicon Valley, suggesting how it is changing. Network effects are considered, with examples.


Conversation 6

AudioBasket‚s move to make their services available to Macintosh users is Ms. Fisher‚s example of how the leadership at AudioBasket makes and prioritizes their decisions. She describes their vigilance in watching both the competition and changing technology.


Acknowledgements

We were honored to be included in the festivities surrounding the launch of AudioBasket.com in San Francisco, in May, 2000. Particular thanks to founders Andrew Edelson and Kim Fisher, and to Thierry d‚Allant, Vice President of Content & Business Development, for their most gracious hospitality. We look forward to further opportunities together.

Our special thanks to CNN/Radio‚s Melek Demir and Robert Garcia, who introduced us to AudioBasket.com.

We look forward to continuing to work both with CNNRadio and with AudioBasket.com.

The Commerce Club provided the ideal setting for this conversation. Thanks to all who make it a pleasure to do business there.

Related Links:
AudioBasket.com welcomes visitors.


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