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I was reading in the Wall Street Journal about First Mover status being given to an industrial products distributor. It seems that when it comes to the internet, the First Mover moniker is all that is needed to provide a good boost to the stock price. However, I have met these tool crib type guys, the people that will be ordering parts and supplies from the internet sites of the industrial products distributors. For some reason, they don't seem like the type of people who are easily impressed with the First Mover status of one of their suppliers. Go back to their dusty, enclosed work areas full of bins for nuts, bolts, small electric motors and light bulbs and imagine these guys deciding to forsake everyone but the First Mover. They are still much more likely to have someone jump into the company pick up truck and drive to the local outlet of the distributor of choice. The desire to take their appropriate place in the investment bankers vision of the internet revolution gives way to the practical need to have the part now because a machine is down and the plant manager is riding their back. And when the IT people finally manage to put on some old outdoor clothing and weave their way through all the finished goods storage areas to install an internet connection in the tool bin, all the distributors and manufactures will have a site and the First Mover status will be moot.

To me, the prediction that the First Mover accomplishment will be a determiner of success needs to be examined by analyzing the results of previous First Movers. The internet may be a revolution, but it is not the first technological revolution, and not even as important as other communication revolutions. I would happily argue that the inventions of the telephone and computer were previous technological revolutions that will have a greater impact on business and society than the internet. Matter of fact, the internet would not exist without telephones and computers, it is a meeting of the two. Did the First Movers of those revolutions gain an unassailable competitive position?

What business was the first to use the telephone in a commercial way? Imagine the reaction of the president of the Ever Sweet Pickle Barrel Distribution Company upon hearing that his biggest competitor had installed a phone in its company headquarters. "That no good Peterson has a phone! Ours will not be installed until next week. He is a First Mover and we are ruined." Do you think that happened?

Was the first buggy whip manufacturer to use electrical power in its manufacturing process forever golden, crushing all its competitors? Did the first retail establishment to use computers to process payroll gain on insurmountable cost advantage? How about the first company to have a telephone based marketing program or a computer based manufacturing system. What was the continued and guaranteed success of the first company with flush toilets, employee cafeterias, fax machines, word processors, florescent lighting, copier machines, electric pencil sharpeners, or space saving, cost efficient employee cubicles.

The most famous First Mover of all is of course Amazon.com. Matter of fact, outside of Amazon's unequaled skill at losing its investors money, its biggest claim to fame is its First Mover status. It continues to bleed the public markets for additional funds based on its First Mover credentials and nothing else. Now Amazon.com may be the first big user of the internet for retail sales, but I question if it is even close to being the first with the idea of bringing a product listing into the customers' home in an easy to use format. I remember a company that brought thousands of items to the customer, allowing them to make their selection and order the product from the comfort and convenience of their own home. It stated about 100 years ago. It was called Sears Roebuck. The product was a catalogue. Amazon.com is Sears on steroids.

Amazon.Sears.

I am willing to posit that the First Mover Syndrome is a "Company Designed, Investment Banker Led, Broker Supported" scam to separate you from your money. The internet companies and their investment bankers have little else to sell. They have no operating history, no profits and no proven and successful models to hype when trying to get you to part with your cash, so they make up ideas. We are in a technological revolution for sure, but we are also in a hype revolution in the markets. When the investment bankers huddle to determine the best way to get you to pay $1 for 2 cents worth of stock in an IPO, they grab onto the First Mover idea, not our of divine insight but out of desperation; for they have little else to sell. The First Mover designation alone is worth at least $5 billion in market capitalization! And what a wonderful idea it is! Every single industry or sub-industry or little niche of a sub-industry can have its very own First Mover. Used _ Books _ About _ Confederate _ Generals _ With _ Last _ Name _ Starting _ With _ J.com is waiting for just the right investment banker!

So I have a business proposal for the members of this board. If the First Mover designation has value, it should be tradable. I propose establishing a new exchange, trading futures on First Mover designations. I don't know how to do this, but I bet we have some readers in Chicago that can set this up in no time. But we need to work fast. Only the First Mover of this idea will be successful. No one must steal our thunder, or we are undone!
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