How Otto Got an e-Commerce Head Start

With $3.8 billion in sales, the German outfit is the world's second-biggest online retailer. Its CEO's foresight paved the way

Is Michael Otto Germany's answer to Jeff Bezos? The reserved 63-year-old chief executive of Otto Group doesn't look the part of an online entrepreneur, dressed in a conservative suit and striped necktie as he greets a visitor in his office in a utilitarian building in Hamburg. But with $3.8 billion in online sales last year via Otto brands, including Crate & Barrel in the U.S., Otto Group is, remarkably, the world's No. 2 online retailer, behind only Bezos' Amazon.com (AMZN).

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