BUSINESSWEEK ONLINE : SEPTEMBER 27, 1999 ISSUE
COVER STORY -- E.BIZ -- THE E.BIZ 25

Bernard Arnault


BERNARD ARNAULT

LVMH MOET HENNESSY LOUIS VUITTON

Position: Chairman

Contribution: Founder of Europ@web, and leading bankroller of European Web ventures--about 30 so far, either European startups or U.S. companies expanding there.

Ambition: To invest more than $500 million in e-commerce startups over the next several years in areas such as financial services and retailing.

A Q&A with Bernard Arnault is available at ebiz.businessweek.com
When the French corporate raider Bernard Arnault lost a bitter fight to acquire Gucci early this year, some people wondered whether he had any more tricks up his impeccably tailored sleeve. Indeed he did. Arnault, the chairman of LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton (LVMHY), is becoming Europe's largest cyberbusiness bankroller--seeding the Continent for the coming explosion of e-commerce.

With a plan to pump more than $500 million into Internet ventures in Europe, Arnault is staking a large claim in a market that seems to be on the verge of taking off. ''In the U.S., the Internet developed in several stages--first the technical stage, then the portals, and then e-commerce,'' says Arnault. ''In Europe, this is all going to happen at the same time.'' If it turns out that way, European entrepreneurs will owe a debt of gratitude to Arnault. He has invested in about 30 startups, including the auction site icollector.com and the online retailer boo.com. He's also backing U.S. startups such as E-Loan Inc. (EELN) to help them with their European expansions.

Arnault, 50, says the Web will never replace the sensory pleasure of shopping in one of his luxury boutiques. Still, he's covering his bets. In October, LVMH's Sephora cosmetics chain is opening an enormous store in New York's Rockefeller Center. The same day, Arnault is launching a Web site for Sephora. With that brand of fancy footwork, Arnault could in short order move from being a leading financier of e-commerce to becoming a leading practitioner of it.

By Carol Matlack

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[empire builders]
Jeffrey P. Bezos
AMAZON.COM INC.

Stephen M. Case
AMERICA ONLINE INC.

Timothy A. Koogle
YAHOO! INC.

[the innovators]
Louis H. Borders
WEBVAN GROUP INC.

Jay S. Walker
PRICELINE.COM

Margaret C. Whitman
EBAY INC.

Glen Meakem
FREE MARKETS ONLINE INC.

James H. Clark
MYCFO INC.

Christos M. Cotsakos
E*TRADE GROUP INC.

[bankrollers]
Masayoshi Son
SOFTBANK CORP., JAPAN

Robert C. Kagle
BENCHMARK CAPITAL

Lawton W. Fitt
GOLDMAN SACHS & CO.

L. John Doerr
KLEINER PERKINS CAUFIELD & BYERS  

Bernard Arnault
LVMH MOET HENNESSY
LOUIS VUITTON  

[the visionaries]
Mary G. Meeker
MORGAN STANLEY DEAN WITTER

John Hagel III
MCKINSEY & CO.

William Joy
SUN MICROSYSTEMS

[the architects]
Louis V. Gerstner Jr.
IBM CORP.

Pehong Chen
BROADVISION INC.

David C. Peterschmidt
INKTOMI INC.

Kevin J. O'Connor
DOUBLECLICK

Ellen M. Hancock
EXODUS COMMUNICATIONS

[the pace setters]
David S. Pottruck
CHARLES SCHWAB CORP.

John T. Chambers
CISCO SYSTEMS

Michael S. Dell
DELL COMPUTER



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