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Chatham Resident Behind Cyber Monday: Idea Became 'Self-Fulfilling Prophecy'

Scott Silverman co-invented event in 2005 as executive director of Shop.org.

Chatham resident Scott Silverman coined the phrase "Cyber Monday" with a colleague while he was executive director of Shop.org. Credit: Submitted photo
Chatham resident Scott Silverman coined the phrase "Cyber Monday" with a colleague while he was executive director of Shop.org. Credit: Submitted photo

Scott Silverman was executive director of Shop.org, a nonprofit representing businesses that sell online, when the organization noticed indications there were an increasing number of online sales happening the Monday after Thanksgiving.

Silverman and a colleague coined the phrase "Cyber Monday," and they announced Shop.org's research in 2005. The Wall Street Journal wrote a story the week before the day.

"It captured the imagination of other media," Silverman said. There was an appearance on CNN, late night talk show hosts mentioned it in their monologues and Jon Stewart did a bit on it.

However, none of the retailers knew the publicity was coming that first year and didn't have sales ready.

The second year, retailers were prepared for it, but some were not sure Cyber Monday would repeat as a media story.

By the third year, no retailers were not doing Cyber Monday, Silverman said.

"It just blew up like we never could have imagined," he said.

The Monday after Thanksgiving has been the biggest day of the year for online sales the past few years, and Silverman expects that will continue. This year's Cyber Monday saw record online sales, USA Today reported Monday night.

"It spread and became a self-fulfilling prophecy," he said.

Silverman stopped working at Shop.org in 2010 and moved to Chatham from the Washington, D.C., area two years ago.

Silverman said it's fun to have been a part of the creation of Cyber Monday, and the best part was finding a way to use the creation to support a scholarship fund.

Shop.org bought the domain cybermonday.com and created a shopping site that has generated more than $2 million for Shop.org's scholarship fund for college students interesting in e-commerce and retail, he said.

Now, Silverman sees the aftereffects in his inbox in the form of promotional emails trumpeting Cyber Monday savings.

He said one of the deals that came through Monday was too good to pass up: Spend $60 at Starbucks, get $25 off plus free shipping.

Silverman now works a consultant with technology startups. One component of his work involves setting up networking dinners for clients around the country.

Anna Sandler December 03, 2013 at 11:30 PM
Fascinating story, who knew Cyber Monday only started so recently?!

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