Jim Rose joined QXL, the online auction company, last spring. Tim Jackson, Britain's first high-profile e-millionaire, always said that he would hand over the reins to someone expert in managing businesses, and now the company is starting to move horizontally, offering everything from Berry Bros cases of wine to self-breathalyser kits at pounds 25 each. It has even bought up Hugh 'Mr Antiques' Scully to give some Middle England front and credibility.
Rose is a boisterous, macho front man, who gives off the right sort of straight-talking, realistic self-confidence. 'I'm fast and this is a fast-moving industry, but at the same time this has been a long hard slog. It is not an overnight success business. Putting up the web site is the easy bit - going for scale is far tougher. Men, not boys, make that happen. We are now thinking carefully about where we want to be in four years' time - the leading European blue-chip internet company.'
Given the hungry glances being cast in this direction by several heavyweight US dot.coms that is an ambitious target, but Rose clearly relishes the challenge. He dismisses talk of bursting bubbles. 'There's no bubble.
Of course there is huge volatility and always will be, but just because our share price dropped from pounds 16 to pounds 11 in one day does not mean we've burst. Our market capitalisation moves more in 24 hours than our IPO value.
But, look, the prediction is a dollars 40 billion market by 2003 and even if that's 50% too high, I still want a slice of dollars 20 billion.'