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This story appears in the February 2000 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Andrea Reisman had a problem--a huge, "Is this the end of my business?" crisis. Just a few weeks earlier, the 30-year-old co-founder and CEO of San Francisco-based, an online pet supply store, had been on top of the world: She had closed a May 1999 venture financing round that pumped $9 million into her start-up. But then came June 14, and her world tilted upside down when arch-competitor announced it had closed a $50 million venture round that included cash from was simultaneously forming a strategic alliance with the e-commerce godfather. That meant visitors to would be peppered with continual reminders to buy kitty litter and 100-pound bags of puppy chow at

More aggravation came when Petsmart--a billion-dollar brick-and-mortar pet chain--announced it would merge its online outlet with independent online store, thereby transforming into a formidable and slick e-commerce player.

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