Founder/CEO of FlashStarts
Charles Stack has had a lengthy career as the startup CEO and angel investor of numerous ventures – both successes and failures (refer to these as ‘pending successes’?).
In his earliest years Stack founded the local YMCA Xmas tree selling program which ran for more than 30 years. In High School he chaired the Red Raider Horse Show committee – increasing revenues over 50% within 2 years – mostly from selling donated concessions at extreme markups. At Kalamazoo College he launched a quickly failed Shaker furniture business and a kayak manufacturing enterprise (6 made, 3 sold) and was editor-in-chief of the student newspaper.
Stack graduated from CWRU Law School and practiced law for fewer years (2) than it took him to get his degree (3). He ‘practiced’ law but never really got the hang of it. But, he did notice that lawyers spent a lot of money on software. Parallax, Inc., which provided asbestos case management services to law firms and corporate law departments was his first big success.
In 1992 he leveraged development resources from Parallax to launch the first online bookstore – Books.com. Charles pioneered most of the features we now take for granted in today’s Internet retailers. Books.com offered millions of books, comprehensive searching, collaborative recommendations (patented), shopping carts, price comparisons (patented), real-time credit card processing, affiliate programs, and he introduced many other now standard internet retailing concepts. Books.com was acquired by CUC in early 1996 and subsequently by Barnes & Noble in 1998.