Welcome to the second edition of section e, Management Today's dedicated quarterly investigation of the www business. Plenty has occurred in the short period since we last appeared. With the turbulence that enveloped the high-tech markets worldwide you could be forgiven, amid all the talk of 'bursting bubbles', for believing that this nascent industry was already witnessing its own demise. But it is not the end. It's not even the beginning of the end. But it may be the end of the beginning as e-commerce feels its first growing pains and starts the hard journey through adolescence towards maturity.
A reminder about why we are here: section e is written for people inside e-commerce and for those who remain outside but wish to learn more of its sometimes arcane workings. The aim is to inform and entertain everyone from roller-blading 20-year-old web designers, through City slickers to MT's established readership. The heart of the magazine is the third MT/Bain e25, which remains Britain's first and only e-commerce index.
Cutting through the topsy-turvy hype and the spin, the e25 uses rigorous analysis to get to the heart of these young companies and arrange them into an order of merit. Our article on the future of music shows precisely why e-commerce will continue shaking up the old economy. Music is one of those areas where the net and its associated new technologies truly threaten to 'change the paradigm'. In five years' time there is a real chance that established artists will have dispensed with record companies and retail outlets altogether as a means of distributing their entertainment.
Goodbye Our Price, HMV and Warner Music - welcome Madonna.com.
STEPHEN COOK, a freelance journalist and former Guardian diarist, Stephen Cook took his first steps into cyberspace three years ago. A dedicated surfer, he is section e's Cybershopper, in this issue probing the ability of the supermarkets to deliver their promises on the web. 'It's worth persevering,' he says. 'Having your weekly shop delivered is a dream.'
LUCY MARCUS is the MD of Marcus Venture Consulting and a rising star of the British e-business scene, despite her US origins. With a career including software marketing, consulting and a spell in the US Treasury department, Section e's summer diarist provides advice and guidance to early-stage start-ups and would-be investors alike.
ANDREW WILEMAN is working on 37 personal e-commerce start-ups. Wileman!.com, his flagship site, is currently in second-round financing. His other web properties include plumbers-I-hate.com and AOL.com (Andrew On-Line), copyright currently in dispute. He contributes MT's Smart Cookies column and advises e-businesses on strategy.