As holiday shoppers flock online in record numbers, one newly minted Internet billionaire just set a record of his own. Mark Cuban, co-founder of Broadcast.com, last week purchased a Gulfstream business jet over the Internet for more than $40m (£25m), in what the company says is the largest sale ever conducted online.
Almost all of the gathering of information and haggling over price took place via email, according to Gulfstream Aerospace, which disclosed the purchase. Even details about the plane's interior and his down payment were all provided electronically. In years past, transactions of this magnitude involved numerous face-to-face discussions. The "real" conversations with a Gulfstream sales executive occurred on an actual airplane -- during Cuban's demonstration flight from Dallas to Boston, the company said.
"Gulfstream's Internet site gave me the opportunity to gather in-depth information and do my research during nonworking hours," Cuban said in a statement. "Had Gulfstream pushed me to buy the 'old-fashioned way', I don't think this deal would've gotten done."
According to a recent survey by Forbes ASAP magazine, Cuban is worth more than $1.2bn as a result of selling Dallas-based Broadcast.com to Yahoo! last April. Cuban wasn't available to elaborate on his statement. Gulfstream, based in Savannah, Georgia, is a wholly owned subsidiary of defense contractor General Dynamics.
This "transaction is more than just another sale", said Joe Walker, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Gulfstream. "From a big-picture, e-commerce perspective, it validates that the Internet can be an extremely effective tool in the sale of large, complex capital goods."
This isn't the first aircraft the company has sold online. In October, Gulfstream announced the sale of a pre-owned Gulfstream IV aircraft to charter company Elite Aviation for almost $23m.
See also: the e-commerce special.