Retaining Employees, Eating Omelets
While I'm usually hitting the after-work happy hour circuit, I joined 290
of Atlanta's technology professionals for breakfast last Wednesday morning
to hear local CEOs discuss retention of employees. The occasion was a
high-tech talent symposium sponsored by the Metro Atlanta Chamber of
Commerce and its Industries of the Mind program. Other sponsors included
Jones Day, Compaq, headhunter.net, the Technology Association of Georgia,
and Witness Systems, Inc.
The Industries of the Mind symposium featured a panel of high-tech leaders
to discuss strategies for retaining and recruiting high-tech talent.
Moderated by Deb Sudbury (partner, Jones, Day, Reavis & Pogue), the panel
included Tom Baber (vice president, SE Region, Compaq Computers, Inc.),
Roger Barnette (president, founder & CEO, eTour.com), Dave Gould (CEO
Witness Systems), Sally Foster (president & CEO, ComputerJobs.com); and
Greg Rable (CEO, Derivion). The panelists discussed a number of ways to
create, in the words of Foster, "a kind of culture that encourages people
Some secrets shared? eTour CEO Roger Barnette shared that his company's
head of human resources had once given employees toothbrushes to remind
them that retention is a daily activity. In discussing the importance of
flexibility in matters from hours to dress, Barnette also revealed that
there is "no nakedness at eTour that I know of."
The Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce's "Industries of the Mind" is a
five-year economic development campaign with the goal of recruiting
technology talent to the metropolitan area, enabling companies to expand
and grow. The initiative will help build and develop Atlanta's high-tech
talent, attract high-tech companies to the city and create awareness of
Atlanta as one of America's great technology centers. For more info, visit
Lots of Tech Jobs Coming to Atlanta!
In his opening remarks to the Industries of the Mind Symposium, Sam
Williams (president, Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce) took the
opportunity to announce that Atlanta is quite the magnet for technology
companies. Twenty-six technology companies have relocated to or
established a presence in the metro Atlanta area since the first of the
year, more than double those relocating in 1999, according to MACOC
"This early success confirms metro Atlanta's viability as a major
technology hub," said Williams. "We are quickly showing the world that
Atlanta is a proven place for technology education, talent, infrastructure
and entrepreneurial spirit."
Williams went on to say, "Many of these companies begin with only a few
employees. However, our experience shows that they rapidly expand after
they establish themselves. A good example is E-Trade, which began with 50
employees, now has around 800 workers, and is expected to grow to 2,000.
A second good example is Phillips Electronics, which moved its North
American headquarters here." Another point illustrated by William:
"Eighty percent of all new jobs created in metro Atlanta come from
existing companies. Our job is to recruit them here. Once they get here,
they quickly grow."
Getting Happy with ePanacea
ePanacea recently hosted another happy hour at the Rose & Crown. While the
hot weather kept most of the folks from spending much time on the outdoor
patio, there was still a great crowd who responded to the invitation
addressed those who "are in a start up, have some great stories, want to
hear someone else's, and like to drink...." Among the gossip I heard:
details of the fall-out at NetSurfer.com. Among those I spoke to: ePanacea
CEO Matt Rosenhaft, Chutney Systems' CEO Anindya Datta, my Yankelovich
Partners (www.yankelovich.com) colleague Liz Thompson, HomeToDo.com's Paul
Gallagher, and Blueshift business development manager Madhan Vishvanathan.
Blueshift (www.blueshift.com), an e-Solutions firm based in Atlanta, GA
and Chennai, India, offers custom software development services and
ePanacea.com is a major client.
I also talked with PRessCafe.com COO Lauren Benner. Launching in early
fall, PRessCafe.com will connect emerging technology companies with the
right journalists. This could be one to watch!
Sex on the Net
In my last column, I mentioned having lunch with an unnamed player in the
cyber sceneóat least the cyber sex scene. Now the name can be told! It was
Mary McFarlane, Ph.D., of the Division of Sexually Transmitted Disease
Prevention at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,
headquartered in Atlanta. Liz Thompson and I met Dr. McFarlane for lunch
at Havanna, where I enjoyed a wonderful Cuban sandwich and black bean
soup, while talking with Dr. McFarlane about her studies on Internet sex.
The results of her recent study have just been published in the July 26
edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). The
article, entitled The Internet as a Newly Emerging Risk Environment for
Sexually Transmitted Diseases, reveals that people who seek sex using the
Internet appear to be at greater risk for sexually transmitted diseases
than those who do not seek sex on the Internet. Talk about viral
marketing! Major media outlets such as USA Today
(http://www.usatoday.com/life/cyber/tech/cti282.htm) and ABC news
have picked up on the story. The complete article can be found at
If you have information on Atlanta news and events, send it to me at