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MAY 15, 2000
COVER STORY -- E.BIZ -- THE E.BIZ 25

By: David Welch


Harold Kutner


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General Motors
----------
Position: Group VP for Worldwide Purchasing

Contribution: Tying GM's Net buying exchange with other carmakers to build the world's largest B2B site.

Challenge: Move faster and get parts suppliers to buy, sell, and design parts via the Net.

At first glance, General Motors Corp. (GM) purchasing czar Harold R. Kutner hardly seems the person to lead GM into the fast-changing, make-it-up-as-you-go world of e-commerce. The 59-year-old Kutner is an old-school purchasing guy with a reputation for playing hardball with suppliers. He only recently made his first buy online--a golf club last fall.

Take another look. Kutner is the force behind the auto industry's first e-marketplace, an automated trading site for carmakers and parts suppliers. He was instrumental in combining GM's TradeXchange with the e-commerce operations of archrivals Ford Motor, DaimlerChrysler, and Renault/Nissan. As chief of GM's TradeXchange site, Kutner hopes to have the auto maker sharing product-development data with suppliers, selling parts online, and allowing car buyers to get custom-built vehicles delivered in days rather than months. ''If suppliers don't realize that there is a transformation going on, they won't survive,'' says Kutner.

So, in mid-February, Kutner brought together an unlikely cast of rivals: software makers Oracle and Commerce One, and carmakers Ford, GM, and Daimler. At the tony Townsend Hotel in suburban Detroit, they made Internet history--a deal that could have $600 billion in business running through TradeXchange in the next few years. That sure tops buying a golf club.




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