These days, Pets.com is part of internet folklore – an early dot.com juggernaut that, in its mission to sell pet supplies direct to consumers, burned bright, launching in August 1998 and going from an IPO to liquidation in 268 days.
Carolyn Everson remembers the site with horror, too – but, for different reasons. Everson says the idea for a pet retail site was hers. Whilst in her second year at Harvard, she combined forces with the owner of the domain name and took $5mn in funding from a VC firm that brought in a CEO – who promptly fired Everson three weeks later.
Today, Everson, now Facebook’s global marketing solutions VP, is sanguine.
“I think about it often,” she tells Beet.TV. “Unfortunately, we didn’t see eye-to-eye on how to take the business forward. She sent me a note via fax at the time. That was devastating. It has taken me many many years to get over that.
“When that happens, you learn a lot from that. You realise that you have to believe in yourself. Executives don’t see eye to eye, you have to learn to navigate that and adjust strategies.”
Everson has certainly ridden it out. Since then, she has held senior roles in Zagat, Primedia, Viacom and Microsoft, before being hired to the world’s biggest social network in 2011.
At Facebook, Everson says she is driven by a deep mission. “Every day, you walk in with a mission to try to connect the world” she says. “We have billions of people that are still not connected to the internet. Knowing that we are doing is making a difference is very rewarding.”
Facebook has a big strategy to wire up Africa through its Internet.org arm. That will be a huge undertaking. But it’s by no means the biggest challenge Everson has faced.
What was that? “Being the mother to Taylor and Kennedy,” Everson replies. “They got a really rough start to life – they were born at 27 weeks and had a 30% chance of survival.
“When I was in and out of the hospital in the weeks leading up to their arrival, my biggest mission was to get them to a point where they could be born and have a chance at life.
“When I compared that to any challenge I’ve had in business – to achieve a revenue number, or to start a new company or overcome a huge obstacle – nothing has ever come close to those seven weeks.”
Everson was interviewed for Beet.TV. The taping took place in New York. This is part of Beet.TV series title the Media Revolutionaries. The series is sponsored by Xaxis and Microsoft.