WEDNESDAY, JUNE 23, 1999 -- Venture Conference
Scott Kurnit justified my early rise as I mused the sanity of an 8:30 AM panel discussion at the Fourth Annual New York City Venture Capital Conference on Wednesday, June 23rd when he said "Get up early" as one of his value statements for his new(ly renamed) firm About.com. Oh good. I wasn't insane. And if I was, there were plenty of other early-bird-catches-the-worm-attendees too like Texas-based Dave Gerhardt of The Capital Network, Michael Covitt and Joni Lysett Nelson of The Sabatier Group, Alan Bain of World-Wide Business Centers, the HeyNetwork.com crew (which launched their live beta site on Monday), the Humor Network guys (who also donated 1000 shares to HEAVEN), Dadstime.com, DormNow.com, and Frank Laufer of Alternative Business Accommodations (which has affordable corporate temporary housing for executives). JC Herz (Joystick Nation) and I were chatting a bit before Burt Alimansky's panel about the events going on over the next few weeks and how convergence between industries isn't as easy as everyone's thinking it is. Her example was the lengthy negotiating that's going on between her and PBS for a documentary she's created. Among the exhibitors who were presenting later in the day were Michael Zaitsev and Suzanne Smolyar of vIntranet and Isabel Wolcott and Channing Kelly of SmartGirl.com. One of the more interesting companies that was exhibiting was My-utility.com--a company that's positioning itself to be in the Internet space when the electric industry is deregulated.
But I was most impressed by Lynda Meyer's Net Technologies' new products (in addition to their consulting services). My favorite is their DoTell Interactive TM. Through the use of any touch-tone telephone you can dial a number, enter a PIN, record a message or say what you like -- and then immediately hear it broadcast over the Internet!!!!!!! We played around with a few examples of "Hello New York!" and "Read all about it in The Cyber Scene!" Lynda told me that Morgan Stanley Dean Witter has signed up for this technology internally and I think the possibilities are endless with news sites (click to hear the headlines), celebrity sites (hear Austin Powers say "Ooh Baby! Do I make you horney?") or even to hear reports, stocks, tips, and other information you'd like to get out on the Net quickly. There is no need for coding so the process is streamlined such that any Exec. could put messages on the Web without having to wait for his tech team to find the time to decode and encode his speech.
Additionally, Net Technologies has several other proprietary and patented products. The Instimanager is an elegant, updateable and maintainable interactive on-line multimedia presentation technology using streaming audio/video, text and animation. For Tucker-Anthony, Net Technologies developed several financial calculators not available anywhere else on the Net. There is a comparison chart between a Roth and Traditional IRA with personalized reports, a retirement calculator and one showing required minimum distributions. I've known Lynda since early 1995 and worked with her on some early projects "back in the day" and it's so exciting to see yet another successful woman-owned business that has grown from a one-woman startup to a prosperous full-scale business in the Silicon Alley, New York and Internet business arena!
The panel was beginning so I had to bid adieu to the fun-phone and sat down for Burt's panel of "How we survived our mistakes" with Scott Kurnit (About.com), Steve Brotman (SAVP) and Robert Lessin (Wit Capital, Dawntreader). After hearing about each man's "mistakes" we learned some valuable lessons about this biz. Get up early* (*see above), don't run out of money (B. Lessin), don't be frugal with equity (S. Brotman). We were privy to lots of other tasty tidbits of advice too, like Kurnit's analogy that if you can "manage a 1/2 live TV show, it's like a microcosm of managing a company…Once you make a decision for the camera to zoom in, there's no debate whether it should zoom out. It's zooming!" He also laughingly told us how like Bill Gates, who didn’t invent Windows but adapted the idea from Macintosh, you too must be adaptive. Bob Lessin advised that when you get a break -- take it! And after a few more anecdotes, we were at a break ourselves when the panel ended.