He predicted the rise of Net trading hubs--powered with his company's software. It turns out he was right. Commerce One's revenues shot up 1,190% last year.
Hoffman faces tough competition from the likes of Ariba and Oracle.
Few execs can claim to have been as ahead of the e-commerce curve as Mark B. Hoffman. Three years ago, the CEO of Commerce One Inc. (CMRC) began preaching the benefits of e-marketplaces, which he predicted would one day dominate the cyber skyline. His company offered software that groups of companies in various industries could use to set up Web sites for haggling over everything from pencils to semiconductor chips. The response? Silence. ''My marketing VP used to say that it was like dogs watching TV,'' says Hoffman. They were listening, but they weren't getting it.
Companies get it now. E-marketplaces are expected to explode, making up 20% of $1 trillion in B2B e-commerce revenue in two years, estimates AMR Research. Hoffman, 53, led the way. A former CEO of software maker Sybase Inc., he transformed Commerce One of Pleasanton, Calif., from a plain-vanilla electronic catalog software company four years ago. Over 130 customers have since lined up to buy in, including Boeing Co. (BA) Analysts expect the company to be profitable in 2001.
It's not all smooth sailing. Commerce One's shares topped $165 in March, only to tumble with other tech stocks to $100 before splitting. And competition is getting fierce, as archrival Ariba Inc. (ARBA) expands its offerings and Oracle Corp. (ORCL) joins the fray. Still, thanks to his early start and smart positioning, Hoffman could end up being a skyscraper on the Net skyline.