Among the first to spot the potential of B2B Net trading markets, he created ICG to fund these start-ups--61 so far, with $1.4 billion invested.
To make sure ICG's upstarts carve out positions in their respective markets as the big established players pile in.
It's a good thing Walter W. Buckley III isn't one to let his emotions get the best of him. As CEO of Internet Capital Group Inc. (ICGE), the Wayne (Pa.) business-to-business e-commerce investment firm, Buckley put B2B on the map by pumping $1.4 billion into 61 startups in just four years. But since December, ICG's stock has collapsed from a high of 212 to a recent 39. Investors are concerned that B2B upstarts could get crushed by Old Economy giants looking to seize control of online commerce.
Now, Buckley, 40, is building bridges between dot-coms and the awakening industrial titans. In December, ICG paid $180 million for a stake in MetalSite, an Internet metals marketplace backed by steelmakers. He also forged a joint venture with DuPont (DD) called CapSpan that will focus on developing online marketplaces for key DuPont businesses such as chemicals and apparel. That venture will likely link up with some of ICG's partner companies.
The shine may have come off ICG's stock, but Buckley's reputation remains untarnished. ''He has created global envy with how successful he's been in the B2B space,'' says analyst Bruce M. Richardson of AMR Research Inc. Now, if he can keep his cool, Buckley may figure out how to hold on to an enviable position.
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