Autobytel had recently acquired CarSmart, and now was looking to acquire Autoweb. For the acquisition of Autoweb to make financial sense, we needed to quickly merge the two operations into one. This meant running two very different web sites off of a single set of servers, managed by a single development team.
Time was very short. The meeting with the Autoweb executive team was less than seven days away, and the pervasive opinion was that this was an impossible task. This was compounded further by the impending partnership with GM that carried a stipulation of no major site updates for the duration of the trial. I was about to face a six month lockdown.
We created a web framework that allowed us to separate branding and content from the domain. With HTML5 and modern CSS, this would have been a much simpler task, but 15 years ago, this was new territory. Our framework let us pick and choose what content was shared and what was domain specific, what the presentation should be, and still allowed for white labelling and co-branding. Armed with our new framework, we were able to completely replicate the Autoweb experience in just three days.
During our meeting with Autoweb, the conversation became heated when the topic of site "themes" came up. Their CEO was convinced that this was not a viable solution. I displayed the new site we built that mimicked Autoweb on the screen, and they all thought it was AutoWeb. When they finally understood what my team had accomplished, they nodded in agreement and the deal was signed.