Few staff writers have come to Inc. by a route more circuitous than that of Marc Ballon, who wrote our cover story on Excelsior-Henderson, the motorcycle start-up taking a run at Harley-Davidson. (See " Born to Be Wild") After stops in Los Angeles; Berkeley, Calif.; Paris; Washington, D.C.; Glen Burnie, Md.; Fairfield, Calif.; Prague; and New York City; he headed off to Romania, to work on a book--and wound up marrying his translator, Rada Bogdacenco. While in Romania, he says, he learned a thing or two about overcoming the reluctance of people who are suspicious of journalists. He says that skill has come in handy since he joined Inc.

Ballon's story raises an interesting question in this era of instant consumer gratification. Even with its cultlike following, has Harley-Davidson made itself vulnerable by keeping customers waiting for as long as two years for a new bike? Excelsior's fate should provide a clue.

  • Donna Fenn hadn't moved around all that much before coming to Inc. as a researcher/reporter, in 1983, but she made up for it after getting here. From 1988 to 1992 she lived in Saudi Arabia, where she worked for the Associated Press. Since returning to the United States, she has been a regular contributor to the magazine.

    Her feature in this month's issue, " Sleeping with the Enemy," picks up on a trend we've been tracking for more than 10 years: the growth of alliances among small independent companies seeking to capitalize on market opportunities. As Fenn shows, the trend has now spread from manufacturing into the service sector and increasingly brings together companies that would otherwise be fierce competitors. It's a fascinating phenomenon of the new economy, and one we'll continue to watch.

  • Don't miss Edward O. Welles's feature about the former Inc. 500 CEO who became a minister counseling employees of fast-growing companies like his own. (See " Chaplain to the New Economy") It will give you a window on the world of work that most of us in management never get a chance to see.
  • We're pleased to welcome Jack Stack back to these pages after an absence of several months. We wanted him back sooner, but he reminds us that he also has a company to run. He provides timely advice on annual sales forecasting (see " A Passion for Forecasting"), a subject covered in several new tomes that have crossed my desk. As usual, he says more in 1,200 words than others do in 120,000.
  • Russ Baker's article, " Surfer's Paradise: A Fool's Guide to Finding Your Way on the Web," has touched off one of the most heated debates we've had around here in recent memory. Several of our editors feel that it's too basic for most of our readers. It isn't too basic for me, however, and I doubt if it's too basic for, say, some of the leading-edge CEOs we lined up to speak at a recent Inc. conference. When we asked them to give us their E-mail addresses, more than half didn't have one.

    So you tell us. Is the article too basic? If your answer is yes, you can E-mail me at If it's no, well, we're still happy to receive letters at 38 Commercial Wharf, Boston, MA 02110, and faxes at 800-335-3348.


  • This month staff writer Marc Ballon examines Harley's newest competition, Excelsior-Henderson.
  • Contributing editor Donna Fenn looks at the spread of alliances among small independent companies seeking to capitalize on market opportunities.
  • Columnist Jack Stack returns to provide timely advice on coming up with annual sales forecasts you can count on.
  • Contributor Russ Baker shows the rest of us how to find our way on the World Wide Web.