Heidi Miller '74 — who Fortune Magazine deemed in 1999 the nation's second most powerful businesswoman — will turn her expertise in a new direction, assuming the position of Chief Financial Officer for priceline.com, the e-commerce company announced Wednesday.
Miller said in an interview last night that after serving as CFO of Citigroup, which employs more than 200,000 people, priceline.com's small size was one of its most appealing qualities.
"It's the difference between riding a powerboat and riding the Queen Mary," she said, adding that the company has about 440 employees. "It's a small team, with very specific goals, and with a lot of potential."
Priceline.com offers various travel, transportation, financing and communication services online.
Miller said she believes e-commerce companies such as priceline.com have the potential to be increasingly profitable in the years to come. "I think it's going to be transformational," she said. "Internet capability and e-commerce is how business is developing."
She added that she believes the business forecast for priceline.com appears to be particularly strong. "The growth trajectory is stronger than Amazon's when it was at the same stage," she said, referring to the popular online book company.
Despite the potential fiscal benefits, Miller said other factors contributed to her decision to work for priceline.com. "At the end of the day, it's not about the quick bucks," she said. "It's about being part of something, building something."
In McCosh 50 last night, priceline.com Chief Operations Officer Dan Schulman offered his own perspectives on the future of his company and e-commerce in general.
Asserting that one cannot underestimate the effects of what he called "Internet revolution" and outlining the drastic ways in which technology will change lives in the coming decade, Schulman repeatedly emphasized his absolute faith in the infinite potential of the Internet."You can't overhype the impact of the Internet. It ranks up there with the inventions of all time," he said, comparing it to such innovations as electricity, television and telecommunication.
Schulman reiterated his belief by speaking of the unique nature of the Internet. "The Internet is not a channel, it's not a medium. It's an information grid," he said.
He spoke also of the mindboggling pace of technological advancement by referring to More's Law. According to Schulman, More's law holds that processing power will double every 18 months while the cost of producing power while be cut in half. "More's law is coming to the communications industry with a vengeance," he said.
The corresponding increase in Internet affordability and availability will mean that it will be integral to almost every realm of life, Schulman said.
He also made predictions about the future of e-commerce. Though only one percent of retail purchases are made online, he speculated that the volume of e-commerce would increase eleven-fold in the next three years. "E-commerce is growing quicker than any shopping phenomenon, ever," he said.