In 2004, Toronto-based Grocery Gateway looked for all the world as if it were going to replicate the short, unhappy life of Webvan, the Silicon Valley online grocery operation that became an archetype of ecommerce failure when it went bankrupt in 2001. There were some key similarities. Like Webvan, Grocery Gateway, which went online in 1998, was funded by venture capitalists whose patience for a money-losing enterprise was not unlimited. And while not remotely approaching the scale of ...

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