E-Commerce: They Love The Slump

These online businesses are profiting not in spite of the tech slowdown but because of it

One of the loudest crashes in the tech collapse came last month, when mighty Cisco Systems found itself with so many of its finished routers and components stuck in warehouses and going nowhere that CEO John Chambers had to take drastic action. He wrote off a record $2.3 billion in inventory, including $900 million in processors and $300 million in semiconductors. Similar liquidations are taking place throughout the electronics industry. And they're providing fresh opportunities for a small band of nimble souls who are profiting not in spite of the tech slump but precisely because of it.

Public-auction websites like eBay...

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