Thursday, May 31, 2001

A Witty WITI

Four luminary women illuminated an audience of more than 100 men and women at the Women in Technology International panel on Thursday, May 31, at the Waldorf Astoria. CNNfn Senior Markets Editor Jennifer Westhoven moderated an excellent panel: Robin Raskin, MD, Family PC Magazine editor-in-chief and Ziff Davis Publishing VP; Sharleen Smith, Oxygen Media director of Convergence Technologies; Sharon Nunes, IBM director of Emerging Technologies, and Katherine Spencer-Lee, RHI Consulting executive director. The group discussed "Trends in Technology-Where We Are/Where We're Going."
The conversation revolved around wireless, security and privacy. The morsels of intelligence doled out from these women was a feast for attendees. Sharon pointed out that "one sign of an emerging area is chaos," as an indication that wireless, as we well know, is definitely an emerging area. IBM's research on wireless technology with wearables like earrings and pants brings up all sorts of new considerations for health, biotech and even "body hacking." Robin acknowledged these advancements, but brought the issue home with comments that despite steps forward in technology, you still would need a Ph.D. to wire your home for wireless. She does believe that soon people will pay for someone to come to their home and set up all the various machines, gadgets, connections and other local area networks, personal area networks and wireless features. Not a bad business to get into, actually.

A few audience questions demanded discussion on the "dot-com demise," which each panelist answered succinctly. Kathleen commented that all the good ideas were sucked up in a vacuum, and are getting bought by the Yahoos, IBMs and Amazons. Robin said that the consumer "expectation was that everything was free." The industry itself is to blame on some level for teaching people that technology and access to goods and services is cheap. Just visit dealtime.com and bizrate.com for bargain hunting. Remember how shipping was free, gift-wrapping was free, you'd get free stuff just for ordering, returns were no charge - it was all one big birthday party. But these sites were built to sell (to another company), not built to last. It doesn't mean they didn't offer good services or products, as she knows from Letters to the Editor at Family PC. A lot of people have written in saying they miss sites like pets.com, etoys.com and garden.com. In answer to "why did pets.com fail?" she responded, "It takes a lot of dog food to pay for all those commercials and the huge marketing dollars they spent." She said she believes, however, that in the next phase customers will be "okay" with paying for services. And when this happens the cost of customer acquisition wont be as high.

Another trend in technology that Sharon addressed was the miniaturization of hardware. Miniaturization and optical technology developments are being used and advanced exponentially in biotech, healthcare and the military. Today, even servers can be the size of a match stick top, and soon we will be dealing with "smart dust." That brings a whole new meaning to dust bunnies and their capabilities! She also commented that she is interested in what computers will look like after the younger generations today get out of school. They'll be in whole new shapes, pointing out the inherent skills of women and their strength in intuitive design.

Kathleen addressed the issue of security, when brought up by an attendee. She cited that the White House Web site has been hacked over 200 times in the last year, and yet we think of our country as one of the most security-focused nations. "We need to be half a step ahead of hackers," said Sharon and voiced her concerns over things like Napster and Microsoft's common registries. As individuals we need to pay attention to the information you give out, until you are totally secure with the online experience.

On a lighter and more inspiring note, Robin told us about a new multi-platform interactive game by Electronic Arts called Majestic. The game involves you through your phone, your PDA, your computer and many other devices. It could be a phone call in the middle of the night that starts the adventure. Then clues are sent to you via your wireless device, a fax machine or printer. The company has even set up relationships with companies across the USA that will call you or that you have to call to get more clues. Taking technology out from the desktop and monitor, into our wearables or hand-held devices, increasing security and offering services we want and need through all the electronic mediums are just the beginnings of trends in technology. It was an enriching evening hearing all this from such intelligent women who have their fingers on the pulse and eye on the horizon of it all!

Convergence of Art and Capital

Once you've acquired a flush stock portfolio, a home in the Hamptons, a Jaguar XJ8 and a Tribeca loft, you need to acquire fabulous art, oui? Well, catering to the needs of Silicon Alley citizens in this category (yes, there are a few), VentureVortex Managing Director Garnet Heraman and Pradnya Haldipur hosted the "Creative Capital Meets Venture Capital" Event at the Paisley Art Gallery on May 31st. CC/VC, which is changing its name to "eMerge Arts", aims to connect emerging artists with emerging collectors -- especially young collectors associated with the Internet, high technology and venture capital industries. They've been entertaining fine folks for a year now in such divine venues as Asia Society, Christie's, Artists' Alliance, Artist's Space, White Columns, Tink Gallery and the Venetia Copernicus Gallery. Their gala party was a nod of thanks to all the host organizations for opening their doors to the CC/VC organization and to their contributing partners -- Bibi Khan of the Andy Warhol Foundation and Carmela Rea of Dinaburg Fine Arts -- for their efforts with the events.

Don't touch that dial! Stay tuned to our Calendar of Events for information on their Summer 2001 season of studio visits with up-and-coming New York artists.

Wednesday, May 30, 2001

The Cyber Scene in Los Angeles ~ by Krysten Johnson

The Layoff Lounge - May 30, 2001

This month out, the Layoff Lounge moved east to Pasadena. It was a great night for it, and the venue was in the 'basement bar and lounge' of Domenico's near Old Town. When I entered (a little late!), all eyes were on the speaker. The crowd was smaller than their other events, so I could quickly locate the driving team behind the Layoff Lounge, Kelly Perdew and Jeremy Grocke, and asked them how things were going so far. They told me the smaller crowd was to be expected on this side of the city, but enough people had asked for an event out here, so they kindly obliged. They also told me that the Layoff Lounge has expanded well beyond California, and now they have monthly events in eight cities across the country, with hopes of launching three or four more during summer. They were both leaving for events the next day, and already had 500 RSVPs in anticipation of Thursday's San Jose event! I gave them my congratulations and attempted to give an ear to the speaker at the back of the room.

The speaker was Adam Miller, president of CyberU. He provided some very practical career-search advice to the crowd. He spoke briefly about how the industry got to this (low) point in the economy, where we could go from here, and how to look for the right job. He recommended that people find a career they really enjoy, not just'a job.' He also gave some sound advice on how to get an interview at a firm, how to research that firm and some salary-negotiation tips.

After Mr. Miller was done speaking, there was a break before the Karma Club started. So, I took the opportunity to talk with other attendees about why there were at the event. I met David Samuels of Blue Acumen who was looking for a 'New Biz Guru,' an entrepreneur who would be willing to help them build their integrated communications agency. They've been around since 1999, but are about to relaunch their site and company. David said he came to the event to see how it differed from the west side events, and to find out what types of backgrounds the attendees came from. He made a few connections that night, so I hope one of them panned out for him.

I also met two designer/directors looking for work, Suzanne Vasaeli and Merrilyn Romen. Suzanne is a freelancer on interactive web projects, and Merrilyn has her own company (www.mromen.com) that is focused on the entertainment and fashion industry. She told me she'd been to the last event at Westwood and really enjoyed the Karma Club and wanted to experience that again here. At that moment, Jeremy stepped up to the mic and told everyone to get ready to start the Club, so I was about to find out what it was all about!

Karma Club was Jeremy's brainchild based on late 90s dating practices where you would go to a venue and sit at a chair to interview a prospective mate for 30 seconds, then move one chair over and interview the next person. reat idea for networking, huh!? It’s like "speed dating meets job fair meets networking." Ten or so people choose a table littered with 'Post-it' note pads. Once the moderator starts the clock, you introduce yourself and why you're there (job, employee, partnership, etc.) The others at your table may have job leads or contacts that could help you. They jot it down on a 'Post it' note and hand it to you. This takes place in less than a minute. Then the next person speaks and you jot down leads for them! It was a fun idea, and a practical one too because it gets people actively communicating with each other; no more walking around and trying to read nametags! Also, the tables at this event were separated by industry focus, so you could really meet people of your interest. The tables were labeled as Business Development & Strategy, Operations & Finance, Marketing Strategy and Technology.

I sat at the Business table and heard from participants. Right after the first person, a self-employed consultant, gave his spiel, three people handed him 'Post-it' notes full of contacts. I decided to join in, and after introducing myself I received two notes of contacts! There was time to switch tables after a while, so you could really cover a lot of ground. The only people who were a bit disappointed by this scenario were the two women I met earlier, because they were the only creatively-focused people there. Most of the attendees fell into the four other groups I mentioned above, but Jeremy and Kelly tried to round up some other designer-types to talk with. In all, it was a very fun idea and well executed.

The sponsors of the event were Headhunter.net and UBS PaineWebber. Jeremy told me they had just signed a deal with Headhunter, whereby Headhunter sends city-based Layoff Lounge meeting notices to its job-seeker database before each event -- a great promotional deal for both companies and the seekers. Although I don't need a job, I hope to keep on attending and reporting on these meetings because the Layoff Lounge team is a very nice group of guys and they are exceptionally good at organizing their events!

The next meeting will be in the OC area on June 19th at Newport Beach, and the next LA event is TBD. See their site at www.layofflounge.com for more info.


Survivor III: Silicon Alley

Trying to establish themselves in the conference game, Mindshare Ventures hosted its second "Survivors: Silicon Alley" conference at Baruch College on Wednesday, May 30th. The full day conference drew a solid number of attendees and a smattering of special speakers. Silicon Alley's own beloved-Bob Barker-type host, Macadory Lipscomb was the entertaining, informative and perpetually capable producer and coordinator of panels and event details. Find out about the next one at: www.mindshareventures.com

Saturday, May 26, 2001

Heavenly Haute Décor

When you step off the elevator at 133 Fifth Avenue you're transported to a serene and lush setting. The HauteDécor.com showroom is decorated with their own collection, a constantly changing collection of fine lines and colors of sofas, pillows, objects d'art and items for enlightened entertaining. Three weeks ago, HauteDecor President and CEO Anthony Dunne opened the company's existing showroom to designers and clients for cocktail receptions. Drawing upon the team's extensive design-background network and Dunne's connections through his board membership of IFDA (International Furnishings and Design Association) there is no shortage of clientele. Dunne, also the chairman of the IFDA Education committee draws upon its proximity to Parsons Design School as fertile ground for future designers as guests and future clients.

Calming classical music played as designers mingled and investigated the items on display. The 20% discount, going on through June, was an added incentive to linger and snap up a real "find." Haute Décor's other location, up the street at 133 Fifth Avenue, is where their HD Studios offer fabric, product and panoramic photography services, Web site design and home-page design services for designers. Bringing designers online, exposing them to a new worldwide audience, and selling to the trade and retail makes Haute Décor a truly diverse and smart site. They're taking advantage of the web by serving multiple target audiences with a beautiful site, products and services - a combination that should show them as a company with longevity.

Friday, May 25, 2001

The Cyber Scene in Denver ~ by Suzanne Lainson

Suzanne Lainson
slainson@thecyberscene.com

I attended a presentation on May 25 hosted by the Colorado Internet Keiretsu (http://www.cik.org). "Pain and Process; Raising $200M" was the first in an expanded series of offerings to CIK members. The speaker was Jim Lejeal, a co-founder of Evoke Communications (now called Raindance Communications) ((http://www.evoke.com). Because the response for the event was so strong, the location was shifted from Jim’s office to Softbank’s (http://www.sbvc.com) Hotbank incubator in Superior.

The meeting was scheduled for 8 a.m. Since I got there early and the doors were locked, I sat in my car and watched prairie dogs running around in a nearby field. The day was spectacular: sunny, clear and a great view of the snow-topped mountains (Yes, life in Boulder is good.)

When the doors opened, we were escorted up to the conference room, a state-of-the-art multimedia center. We were provided with coffee, tea and donuts. The room was full, so I’m estimating that 35+ people attended, including Scott Price, CEO of CustomerCentrix (http://customercentrix.com), Mike Gellman, CEO of SpireMedia (http://www.spiremedia.com), Sueann Ambron, dean of the University of Colorado-Denver business school (http://www.cudenver.edu/business), Cate Lawrence, president/CEO of Warrior Solutions (http://www.WarriorSolutions.com/warrior/html/index.html), Carl Kalin of The Jedi Group (http://www.jedigroup.com), and Deborah Arhelger, managing partner of DuoVoce Group (http://www.duovoce.com).

The presentation was excellent: lots of real-life tips I haven’t heard in other VC presentations. Jim started by talking about going from the Air Force Academy to co-founding IMR/Vstream/Evoke/Raindance. Now that’s a switch.

He said that VCs want:
* A proven management team (which is determined by a history of success with demonstrable excellence -- although a past business failure can be okay -- and experience building teams).
* A large market (an easily validated market in which a 1% market share which represents an impact return that can be readily achieved).
* An unfair competitive advantage (think in terms of a legally protected idea that is sustainable long-term and offers a beachhead to more advantages).
* A demonstrated sales process (which means customers are already buying, low-hanging fruit is available and dropping, and revenue is recurring and offers high, sustainable gross margins).
* An early-to-market strategy (for those planning to dominate the market) or a niche market strategy (for those coming in late), with timing consistent with the exit plan.

VCs, in turn, are dealing with market risk, executive risk, technological risk and the expectations of limited partners.

The level of due diligence increases by levels of magnitude with each round of funding. And the executive summary and presentation, the business plan, and the expense-operating model must increase in equivalent detail.

For series D funding, he whittled a list of 45 to 50 funds down to eight or nine. When looking for a fund, consider which companies are already in the portfolio, and whether the fund will be able to assist in the next round of funding. It’s also wise to consider which general partner will be assigned to your company. Even if the fund passes on your deal, keep the relationship positive (and make sure you push in your chairs when you leave the office--it makes a good impression).

Getting Evoke ready for the IPO required the full-time work of four to six in-house people.

Get funding from VCs whenever you can. Look for ways to distribute risk and don’t take on too much yourself.

The challenge with angels is that they often have little or no sophistication. And their funding ability can change dramatically, depending on what’s happening in their personal lives.

When starting a company, you need think constantly about fundraising. But many entrepreneurs never acknowledge that. At board meetings the subject sits in the room like an elephant no one ever talks about. Brad Feld, a principal managing director of SBVC, took that analogy one step further. He said that in today's funding environment, the elephant has woken up. He’s grumpy, hungry, and shits all over everything.

Brad went on to say that timing is king. Right now the best time to raise money is during the early stages of your business. VCs are more willing to get in at this level because their losses will be limited. When approaching angel investors, keep in mind that sometimes they have more to contribute than just money. Experience and contacts can be worth a great deal.

After the presentation, Hollen Michel, Hotbank den mother and office manager, gave some of us a tour of the Hotbank facility. It’s quite impressive and well thought-out. Most of the desks are located in vast, open space areas without partitions. The effect is very similar to being in a library, with everyone quietly working on their tasks in full view of everyone else. (For those times when privacy is necessary, there are rooms available.)

Hotbank and Softbank execs and staffers do have their own offices, which feature glass garage-door style fronts (to remind everyone that entrepreneurs often start their businesses in garages).

There is also an office room (which serves as a mini Kinkos for tenant companies), a library, a cafe and a game room (which has turned into the de facto clubhouse for any techie in the region privileged enough to be invited over to play).

On May 31, I attended another CIK event, a happy-hour gathering at the Funky Buddha, a Denver club. The turnout was pretty good, considering the Avalanche were playing that night in the Stanley Cup finals and a Jimmy Buffet concert was going on (well, as far as I know, only one person missed the event because of Buffet, but quite a few stayed home to watch hockey). By my estimation, about 25 of us were there. Since it was Mike Gellman's idea to do this, there was a big contingent from Spire including Gellman, President Paul Schrank, Director of Marketing and Business Development Brandon Shevin, Chief Information Architect Jason Coble, and Brett Madden, who has been given the job of keeping track of RSVPs to Spire's upcoming Hot as Hell Party. Unfortunately, she has not been given a computer to do so and must chisel the responses in stone. (Budgets can be tight these days.) Also there to keep things lively was Jon Fetzer, co/founder and VP of operations and product development at the international trade site TamTam (http://www.tamtam.com).

Bernice German, president of Peak Achievement (http://www.peakachievementinc.com), Scott Price, CEO of CustomerCentrix, and Michael Lenzine, a professor of ecommerce at the University of Denver's Daniels College of Business (http://www.dcb.du.edu) talked about elearning. Patrick Scannell, CEO/co-founder of K Group (http://www.kgroup.com), talked about putting his Ph.D. studies on hold to start his web consulting business. Among the others in attendance were Frank Rider, CEO of SalesTool.com (http://www.salestool.com), James Dears, president of Ascent Technology, and Mendi Mullett of AACCESS Advanced.

There is one other CIK-related item to mention. Kari Nelson, who is on the CIK executive committee and serves as president of Recess Active Entertainment (http://www.YourRecess.com/index.html), has set up some Boulder business networking events to bring out the kid in all of us. Tuesday, June 12, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., and Wednesday, June 13 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. – and every Tuesday and Wednesday throughout the summer – she will host activities for fun-deprived business people to be held in Boulder's Central Park at Canyon and 13th Street. If you want more info, give her a call at 720 406-7800.

ADV ~ BusinessWeek's e.biz in Europe

Be sure to enter the priority code "EBE-CP." Europe's foremost e.biz strategists and decision makers will convene at BusinessWeek's 2nd Annual e.biz Live: Europe, 7-8 June at the London Hilton on Park Lane. "Web Smart? Better Ideas, Measurable Results" will present the smart companies honored by BusinessWeek as the Web Smart 50. These are the companies that continue to be a step ahead - who have the technology and the imagination to exploit that technology. BusinessWeek's e.biz Live: Europe will focus on the strategies, products, and services that are yielding measurable results - profits, reduced cycle times, lower operating costs, and more efficient systems. Exciting speakers include executives from London Business School, Oracle Corporation, Siemens AG, Paybox.net, Cisco Systems, Autonomy Corporation plc, Tesco.com, International, Lands' End, Inc. and more!

Shakers & Stirrers and Bits & Bytes

Nurun Names Development Director
Craig Helps Teachers

The Cyber Scene in San Diego ~ by Lilia Phleger Benjamin

A couple of weeks ago I attended the belated Cinco de Mayo celebration called "Ocho de Mayo" at netHappyHour http://www.nethappyhour.com/. As usual, Michael's Bar and Grill at the Hyatt Aventine La Jolla was filled to capacity, and it was a bit daunting to actually take the plunge! However, once in with nametag donned, it was off to find some happy faces willing to share their stories...

Radware http://www.radware.com was the evening's sponsor, however, I was not able to talk to anyone at their table, so I satisfied myself with a cool purple pen and headed further into the crowd. I met Gabriel Bissell of Global Orbit http://www.globalorbit.com/ and talked about his use of a virtual work team based on project needs. In fact, virtual work teams seemed to be the talk of the day, as I caught the phrase again while chatting with Richard Sims, president of Human Systems Consulting. His company offers management consulting and business development services, and based on a client's needs, he custom creates a virtual team of experts. Richard can be reached via email at simzi@aol.com.

Moving along, I was introduced to Amy Vavrunek, one of the co-founders of netHappyHour along with Craig Nelson and Brian Yui. Amy is the president of Artemis http://www.artemisagency.com/, which is the design agency responsible for the very cool netHappyHour invitations. I also ran into my good friend Jennifer Beckey, president of Maptrace http://www.maptrace.com and head of the San Diego chapter of the Forum for Women Entrepreneurs http://www.fwe.org/socal. We chatted with the energetic Vicki Campbell, who works with Artemis and also heads her own company, Vavoom Design http://www.vavoomdesign.com/. It turns out that Vicki gets her tremendous energy from teaching spinning classes...one of these days I have GOT to explore the world of regular exercise.

Speaking of the FWE, the following week I attended their monthly chapter meeting that included a presentation by Brad Grob of the Cambrix Consulting Group http://www.cambrix.com/ entitled "Developing Successful Strategic Alliances." He regaled the group with stories of alliances chaired by Cambrix for such companies as IBM, Intel, Microsoft, CNET, Amazon.com, and Earthlink. The audience of women entrepreneurs in high-tech and life sciences seemed to agree strongly with his key points, and judging by the number of women in attendance, it appears as though the new San Diego chapter is off to a good start!

At the meeting, I introduced myself to Nicolle Paradise, a technical recruiter for the Kronos Group http://www.kronosgroup.com/. The Kronos Group recruits all levels of open positions including I.T. professionals, and their goal is to help small businesses hire the right people to grow their business. Finding a good recruiter these days is crucial, and a sure way for both the employee and company to save time and money!

Melissa Graham of DigiVision http://www.digivision.com/, a video enhancement supplier, spoke to me about how they were moving into the consumer electronics field after a solid track record in the medical field. Think of those surgeries on cable TV, and you'll get an idea of what they do. They are moving forward with funding and are looking to create partnerships with several key providers in the home electronics arena.

And finally, I traded business cards with Teri McCready, CEO of 360 Web Marketing.com http://www.360webmarketing.com/. After checking out her website(s), I am looking forward to talking with her at the next FWE meeting!

Until next time!

ADV ~ 1st Residential Broadband Building

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* 26 live/work loft condominiums with OC-3 BROADBAND INTERNET ACCESS pushing 100 megabytes per second at 175 TIMES FASTER THAN T-1
* Ideal for "real-time" digital film/music editing, 39 large windows per floor, 4 exposures, select terraces, 24 hour concierge/doorman
* Lofts 1,450 to 6,750+ sq. ft. from $805,000 ~ Contact: Robert McCain & Michael Chapman 212.473.2600 www.62coopersquare.com

Publisher's Note ~ The Seasons Turn

The summer is fast approaching, despite the rainy weather. Despite market downtowns, take some time to relax and enjoy the lingering days. Soon enough the brisk, busy fall will be upon us!

>> CYBER SCENE SOCIAL NOTES ~ 5/25/01


In an attempt to help facilitate better networking for new media professionals and "Scenesters," here are some points that will be added during the weeks. They will be archived here.

** Upon taking leave of a party, be sure to give Thanks to the hosts before leaving.

TCS Intro ~ 5/25/01

Courtney Pulitzer's Cyber Scene ~ May 25, 2001

>> THIS WEEK
A Significant Point in Silicon Alley
Alltrue at Izzy Bar ~ by Gina M. Larson
The Cyber Scene in Denver ~ by Suzanne Lainson
The Cyber Scene in San Diego ~ by Lilia Phleger Benjamin

>> REGULAR FEATURES
Cyber Scene Social Notes
Shakers and Stirrers
Bits & Bytes

>> SUBSCRIBE/UNSUBSCRIBE
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>> CORPORATE PARTNERS
Sparklist -- Mailing list services
http://SparkLIST.com/

Aperian -- Connectivity/Hosting
http://www.aperian.com

>> UPCOMING EVENTS
www.cocktailswithcourtney.com
June 14th - 6:30 PM - 8:30 PM
Sponsored by The Carl Fischer Buildings
Come see the nation's only broadband wired residential building with OC-3 Internet connectivity while sipping cocktails and enjoying the Astor Place surrounding areas Views!

>> PUBLISHER'S NOTE

The summer is fast approaching, despite the rainy weather. Despite market downtowns, take some time to relax and enjoy the lingering days. Soon enough the brisk, busy fall will be upon us!

Thursday, May 24, 2001

New York Venture Group's pow-wow

If you stepped foot into the New York Athletic Club on May 24th for the New York Venture Group's monthly breakfast (www.nybf.com), you would've thought you stepped into a time machine. The room was absolutely packed with what must have been over 300 new media leaders and investors. The featured topic was "Alley's Newest Venture Firm Seeks Startups." It was like someone turned the clocks back 18 months; I thought I was dreaming.

The featured speaker was Josh Grotstein from Silicon Alley Seed Investors (www.sasinvestors.com), a new VC fund focused solely on seed and early stage companies that have not garnered an institutional round of financing. There are two types of early stage opportunities on which they focus: 1) companies that have demonstrated success with a prototype or Beta product requiring $500K to $2 Mill, and 2) seed companies that require $100-500K, as well as resources, insight and management expertise which SASI (nice acro, dude) would provide in their 'Founders-in-Residence' program.

There were quite a number of startup dotcoms running around the place. At an "investor event," dotcommers are the last people I want to talk to. I try to avoid my often-overzealous, entrepreneurial peers (the ones with red dots on their name tags) as much as possible, opting instead for the green, both literally and figuratively. At this particular breakfast, however, all I seemed to be running into were the less-than-sexy Yellow dots signifying lawyers, accountants and other support services. As unexciting as they may seem, the yellow dots are often one step away from the money, so they are always good to talk to. I guess the lesson is you should never judge a book by its yellow cover.

One of the most prominent sub-groups of the Yellow species was the executive headhunter - small surprise to see so many of them running around these days. I chatted with two exec headhunters of distinction: Michael Sullivan of TMP.worldwide (www.tmpsearch.com) and Norm Shulman of CMA Worldwide (www.cmaww.com), which specializes in technology execs. Looks like I'll be giving these fine folks a call when the money comes through - I'm no egotistical founder/CEO who needs to control everything! (or at least that's what they say I shouldn't be). Also in attendance were quite a number of business-plan consultants and coaches. I had the pleasure of talking with Gail Brennan of Venture Architects (www.venturearchitects.com), a firm that specializes in developing concise, compelling and accurate business plans and financial projections for private companies. Venture Architects' services run the full gamut of business-plan production, from idea to funding, including capital raising, coaching and financial projections.

More and more yellow. My string of Yellow meetings proved that perhaps all that glitters yellow is gold. Rich Shanley and the team from Deloitte were glittering in full force. I had the pleasure (as always) of speaking with Rich and meeting Michael Potorti, among others on the world-class Deloitte team. I'm so impressed with them that I think I'm going explore the possibility of my company becoming a client (if that's alright with Rich, of course.)

Last, but definitely not least, I met a Yellow-dotted gentleman who shares with me a deep bond which goes beyond all the money and success in the world: Joshua Glantz of the New York City Venture Capital Conference (www.nycventureconference.com). Josh actually drove 10,000 miles around the United States in a YELLOW! 1973 VW Bus. And I live and work in a 1973 VW Bus (Though it's white. Oh well.) We were like blood brothers! Well almost. :-) Josh gave me the scoop on the NYC VC conference set for July 8-10, 2001 at the Marriott Marquis, Times Square. The Conference theme is Catching the Next Wave - Financing, Structuring & Focusing Your Company When the Seas Get Rough. Featuring more than 100 speakers from the venture capital industry, this conference is a must-attend event.

So I don't know if all of this should be seen as an unhealthy attachment to the glory days of '99, or the prepping for a wisdom-infused new media renaissance. All I know is that Burt Alimansky and the New York Venture Group outdid themselves once again in throwing a fine investor breakfast.

~ T.Martin

Tuesday, May 22, 2001

Alltrue at Izzy Bar ~ by Gina M. Larson

Movie folks and new media minglers took shelter from the rain on Tuesday night in the basement of Izzy Bar in the East Village. The gathered forgot about their dew dropped locks as they ordered up some drinks at the corner bar. That's where I found Judy Katz, VP of business development from Alltrue. She prepped me for the prankumentary that was being shown, the reason we were there. The 45-minute show was a cross between Candid Camera and The Tom Green Show. The first vignettes consisted of some goofy guys playing pranks on unsuspecting New York City folks. The second series was more of the same, only the games were taken to Panama City during Spring Break. Ben Morrison, co-owner of comedynyc.com was there to check out how the gang down at Alltrue, a site for underground entertainment, does comedy. The clips ranged between good and poor, with lots of bikini-clad blondes, drunken frat boys, and one outtake that took its editing cue from The Blair Witch Project. No doubt, that Alltrue's feature will appeal to its demographic though: 18-30 year-old men.

A Significant Point in Silicon Alley

Every cloud has its silver lining and even the darkest moments have a glimmer of hope. And this week Silicon Alley was treated to a bright burst of hope and inspiration as Silicon Valley-based VantagePoint Venture Partners opened their New York offices. Their opening celebration, on Tuesday May 22nd, drew a powerful collection of significant investors, bankers, journalists and entrepreneurs. The smooth inlaid wood paneled elevators quietly carried you up to their 39th floor space that greeted you with a lovely jazz band playing classic songs, a waiter offering champagne or white wine and two outstanding Alexander Creswell watercolors--"Astor Hall" of the New York Public Library and "Main Memorial" of Columbus Circle--above a tastefully appointed seating area.

Upon arrival partners Alan Salzman, Jeff Marshal, Ken Kharbanda, John Kain greeted guests at the various ends of the long rectangular space. Partner Jim Marver was still yet to arrive from his interview on CNNfn's N.E.W. Show, which everyone waited for eagerly to hear how it went. As I walked past the glass-encased conference room I saw Silicon Alley veterans I-Hatch co-founders and managing principals Chip Austin and Brad Farkas chat with Unplugged Games president and founder chatting with various guests and enjoying some of the tasty hors d'oeuvres. Exquisite prints of old New York city and state landmarks lined the walls and showcased the city's early commerce centers, trade marinas and pastoral fields north of 42nd Street. The various offices and conference rooms were decorated with more stunning black and white photographs of more New York landmarks from the 1800s, 1930s and other decades.

While the firm's interior design was classic old New York, their investment sense and approach is one with an eye on the future. Adding to the import of their office opening was the announcement of their VantagePoint New York Fund (VP NY), of which there is apparently $150 million committed and is focused entirely on technology innovations, applications and services related to data networking, optics, semi-conductors, wireless and voice in New York State. Hurrah! Another Silicon Valley-based firm sees the talent in New York as a significant draw to establish a presence here! Another noteworthy element of the opening and event was VantagePoint's "party-favor." As opposed to handing out gift-bags with branded tchotchkes, the partners made personal donations to the Literacy Volunteers of America for its work within New York State.

Executive director of the New York State Teachers' Retirement System George M. Philip as well as his colleagues Joseph Vet and Thomas Rest were at the party and were enthusiastic about their involvement with VantagePoint on this fund. NYSTRS is a limited partner in the $1.6 billion VantagePoint Venture Partners IV fund and the anchor limited partner in the new VantagePoint New York fund. Several of the journalists like AlleyCat News Anna Wheatley there held considerable interest in talking with them and the VantagePoint partners. Other guests that came to celebrate with the partners were Sanders Morris Harris managing director Humbert Powell III, Besemer Venture Partners' Christopher Chesney, Brobeck Phleger & Harrison Brian Margolis, Pillsbury & Winthrop's Emily Campbell and Lori Hoberman and White & Case's Neal Grenley.

I chatted for a bit with PriceWaterhouseCoopers' Technology/VC partner Murray Alter, Primary Knowledge's Peter Adams and Ted Schlissel and Primedia Ventures' Larry Phillips. Sumptuous hors d'oeuvres like caviar purses and eggplant on risotto passed by and were sampled by guests as the fine wines (chosen by the partners from their extensive wine knowledge) were sipped. The Daily Deal's Kim Jacobs and Institutional Investor Kellie Carey and Morgan Stanley Dean Witter executive director John Fildes mixed and mingled and I had a delightful conversation with Starweaver's managing partner Paul Siegel and managing director Frederick Schlosser and lawyer David Cohen.

Private Equity Week associate editor Robyn Kurdek was a hit with not only her inquisitive questions but with her creative fashion statement. It was a unique break from the sea of Hermes ties and dark blue suits. With over 100 guests filling up the elegant offices and rooms, the party's buzz carried through till the tail end. And even afterwards, when the partners celebrated the end of yet another successful day with a bit more champagne, there was a buzz in the air and joy at future opportunities.

Monday, May 21, 2001

The Cyber Scene in Los Angeles ~ by Krysten Johnson

NetworkingSoCal - May 21, 2001
The first "official" meeting of NetworkSoCal was held in Brentwood at the trendy El Dorado mexican restaurant. On weekends this place is very hot, and the back room and bar is packed with well-dressed clubbing types. On this particular Monday, however, the back room featured networking types and by 7:30 the place was bustling. Unfortunately the bar owners didn't understand that loud music and very low lighting do not improve a networking venue, so after an hour of squinting to read name tags and shouting over pumping grooves I was eager to head back to the outside dining area.

JoAnna Minneci was there with me and agreed that it was time to escape, but before we left we chatted with two partners from a fairly new company called Userplane. Kevin Prentiss and Mike Jones are two of the company's leaders; they used to work in New York as well as LA when they were the core of PBJ Digital. Their newest venture is an Internet architecture and development company that delivers cohesive, user-centric Internet applications and they are headquartered in the Miracle Mile stretch on Wilshire.

An SXential Sensorial Experience

New York is no stranger to new dining establishments sprouting up. Each year there's a slew of new restaurateurs hoping to reign on the foodies in town. This is one industry that independent of market fluctuations sees even more failures than our fledgling industry. However, every now and then there is a notable opener that entices diners and scenesters alike.

Just last week, SX137, named coyly for its address: 137 Essex Street, opened. Already the restaurant has made a significant mark in the neighborhood on several levels. So far it has all the right ingredients for a successful stay: experienced (and nice!) owners and staff, unique design, a delicious and inventive menu, local artists' artwork hanging on the walls. It even has a charitable aspect.

Mike Bollo, who also is a partial owner of the popular NV lounge in western Soho, joined up with Eric LaGrange, who partially owns The Elephant and Casimir, and Alex Sumner, who was a public school computer science teacher for 10 years. Chef John Lhoft worked at The Elephant and Chez es Saada, and has brought his unique flair for tasty dishes with him to SX137. This lounge aims to be a place where people can come for a drink, order a small dish or two, and then go back to drinking (and then go back to ordering small dishes). The menu borrows drink names from area streets and has a "Sumner Roll" named after Alex.

Of course the first thing you notice about SX137 is its façade. The plywood front gives it the appearance of being unfinished, but the illuminated triptych squares with samples of the featured artist hint at something a bit more MOMA-esque.

Designer Harry Allen, who also did the SoHo Moss store and has been in Metropolitan Home's top 20 up-&-coming designers list, was the creative genius behind the façade and the interior. The restaurant is divided into three sections, each materially independent of the other. You walk up the all-plywood, handicap-accessible ramp into the bar. Everything's plywood: the floor, the walls, the ceiling, the tables, the chairs (with black leather tops) and the bar. I felt like I was in a barn. But the drinks are powerfully creative, so no one seems to mind. In fact, you might want to find a bale of hay to mess around in!

After relaxing in the au natural setting, I was escorted back through the mirrored section, where all the walls and ceiling are mirrors. Sorry guys, the floor is made up of charcoal steel tiles, so no upskirt.com visits for you! The stainless steel, mini tables pour deux flip up, and the bar stools can be whisked away if the crowd swells and more bar or dancing space is needed. There most likely is some dancing because the mirrored section borders the DJ area, which is all cobalt-blue formica with cobalt-blue, rubberized flooring. This tiny spot also borders the third and back area, a traditional steak house type setting with wood paneling, round oak tables, brown leather booths, and cherrywood, thick-slatted blinds. "Daily Candy" was inclined to coin it the "Beefsteak Charlie area." This is where most people come back to share six or nine little tapas before heading back front for six or nine crazy cocktails (okay, maybe less).

Just adjacent to the steak-house setting is the luminescent white room. All white walls, floor, ceiling and leather banquette create a serene, ethereal, Asian feel. The white tables can be separated for dining for two or put together for a small diner party of 12. The thick, white-slatted blinds can close, so that you feel transported to your own private Idaho (or Heaven).

To keep patrons movin' and groovin' wherever they are in the establishment, there are speakers in every room, and each night of the week the DJ works with the crowd to set the mood. Even the bathroom, a la Ally McBeal, has speakers. It's worth a trip downstairs - past the hallway with the rotating art exhibit featuring a local artist's work - to the white, tiled-and-mirrored communal bathroom. There are individual toilet rooms, so you don't have to worry about anyone sneaking a peak, but the shared sinks and waiting space are a breeding ground for pick-ups and rendezvous.

All these features add up to make SX137 a worthwhile trip. But the worthiness doesn't stop just at your visit. The benevolent owners have gone a step further by incorporating charitable aspects to the establishment. Sensitive to the fact that not all neighborhoods are thrilled about the prospect of a trendy bar increasing traffic, noise, litter and debauchery in their part of town, the owners set up a relationship with the Stanton Street Settlement's art program. (www.stantonstreet.org) Founded in 1999 by Greg Drozdek, this 100% volunteer organization is where indigenous children can immerse themselves in academics, computers, drama and art. In the spirit of this mission, SX137 will donate the proceeds from art sold during their openings to the SSS. Each exhibited artist will donate a quarter of their proceeds to the SSS. I asked Mike Bollo what prompted them to do this, and he replied they "didn't want to come in as another restaurant and 'take.'" They wanted to give back to the community and to be an asset, not only where you could come and enjoy yourself, but also for the Stanton Street Settlement."

From earthy to disco-y to steak-y to heavenly, walking through SX137 is an experience in all five senses. It even touches upon the your sense of compassion. Intriqued? All readers of "The Cyber Scene" get one drink free - just mention "The Cyber Scene."

Friday, May 18, 2001

Shakers & Stirrers and Bits & Bytes

Jensen Joins SportSkill.com
Razorfish Teamd with Sonera
Jupiter Media Metrix Names the Top 50
Bluewaveware Launches
Quantum Invests in NewMarkets International

Big Blue and the Hip(tech)Space Let You In

Between IBM's new Blue Velocity program and TechSpace's supportive work environments and services, companies that have lasted this long (or new ones, for that matter) can take their firms to a new level. To commemorate the advantages of these two firms working together, and to make a few other announcements, IBM and TechSpace held a "Back to Business" party on May 18th at TechSpace's 11th Street location. A female DJ was spinning hot tunes of the day (and night) as I arrived and chatted with Austin-based IBM Event Producer Sean Bridges. Sorceron's Howard Greenstein introduced me to IBM Venture Executive Paul Magnone and Wendy Heller. We chatted a bit, and they, in turn, introduced me to IBM VP of Sales America, NetGeneration Patricia Falotico and NetGeneration City Manager Dan Dinen. Digital Owl Director Business Development Jack Spielberg said "hello," and as the chicken satay came around, a blue-haired Cameron Brown, of TechSpace tenant Venaca, took three. As Brown sipped a blue martini, I chatted with him and NetReaction's Fred Sullivan. TechSpacer's Harris Levinson, Michael Venzer, Sue DiFranco and Rob McQueen were enjoying the networking and fine evening of tasty hors d'oeuvres and beverages. I chatted with them and caught up with TechSpace Chairman Bruce R. Bockmann. On my way out, I chatted with Macedon Consultant Max Abramowitz and Sorceron Business Development EVP Catherine Billon, and caught up on life in their scenes. The party was winding down, but people stayed to chat. I had one more event to get to, so I bid my adieus and headed into the quite Village street.

TiE-ing it all in for Tri-State Entrepreneurs

The rich, burgundy-paneled walls of one of Ernst & Young's conference rooms were a nice complement to the forest of dark blue suits swaying in the network dance. The IndUS Entrepreneurs (TiE) NY chapter hosted its first Technology Investor Forum of 2001 at the Ernst & Young offices on May 18th. This organization, chartered by entrepreneurs, corporate executives and senior professionals with roots or interest in the Indus region, has chapters across the United States and is focused on benefiting all entrepreneurs, would-be entrepreneurs and professionals with an interest in entrepreneurship. This night's forum introduced three New York, tri-state region, high technology companies seeking early stage funding to potential investors. Upon arrival, Zero Stage Capital Principal Inder Soni offered me some fancy potato chips and told me that while the Silicon Valley and Boston chapters are quite active, they are trying to build up the New York chapter with companies focused on hard-core technology (as opposed to soft-core new media?). One of TiE's objectives is to encourage talented entrepreneurs to start their own companies instead of taking a job with a large corporation. Host for the evening, Ernst & Young Partner Kapil Jain, told me that they hope to have these events every four to six weeks in order to get entrepreneurs in front of early stage funds and investors. One of the presenters, NTTX business development director Rajiv Desai, told me about their trademarked product NeOObjects server. This wireless and web application allows companies to create their own portal through which you can connect directly to your desktop or LAN from standard mobile devices. NTTX's primary markets are the telecom, health care and financial industries. Transportation/logistics is a secondary market.


Marketing Technology Solutions Marketing VP Ram Rao and President Fouad ElNaggar spoke about their targeted marketing-services company. The company was founded in 1999 with $2 million Series A financing from Lazard Technology Partners. Rao and Fouad say they are confident about their product and services for the consumer packaged-goods and pharmaceutical direct-market industries. I met the third presenter, Inziogo's Mobeen Khan. Inziogo is a natural-language/speech product for call centers. Before I left, Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison's Edward Reilly snapped a candid of me and some folks.

>> CYBER SCENE SOCIAL NOTES ~ 5/18/01

>> CYBER SCENE SOCIAL NOTES
In an attempt to help facilitate better networking for new media professionals and "Scenesters," here are some points that will be added during the weeks. They will be archived here.

** PLEASE! Whatever you do-do NOT pick food out of a buffet platter or chafing dish and then stick the food in your mouth! Use the serving silver to put the food on your plate or napkin!!!!

>> SHAKERS & STIRRERS -AND- >> BITS & BYTES ~ 5/18/01

>> SHAKERS & STIRRERS
"Check out the site for the latest in who's movin' and shakin'!
For the whole scoop, go to:
http://www.thecyberscene.com/newyork/index.shtml"

Jensen Joins SportSkill.com

>> BITS & BYTES
Send your news to: news@TheCyberScene.com
For the whole story, go to http://www.thecyberscene.com

Razorfish Teamd with Sonera
Jupiter Media Metrix Names the Top 50
Bluewaveware Launches
Quantum Invests in NewMarkets International

TCS Intro ~ 5/18/01

Courtney Pulitzer's Cyber Scene ~ May 18, 2001

>> THIS WEEK
Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Investment Clubs...
Venture Downtown Back in Midtown with Uptown Style
From the Neighborhood, For the Neighborhood
TiE-ing it all in for Tri-State Entrepreneurs
Big Blue and the Hip(tech)Space Let You In
Journalists on the Alley
Bits, Bytes and an Ole!
A Spring Harvest
Excite@Home in Soho

The Cyber Scene in Denver ~ by Suzanne Lainson

>> REGULAR FEATURES
Cyber Scene Social Notes
Shakers and Stirrers
Bits & Bytes

>> SUBSCRIBE/UNSUBSCRIBE
"The Cyber Scene" is published weekly. Subscriptions are free. To
subscribe or unsubscribe: http://www.pulitzer.com/subunsub.html

http://www.ewomp.com/CustomSolutions/cgi-bin/imgclk2.pl?id=P1N1H5R1&sid=161

>> CORPORATE PARTNERS
SPARKLIST -- Mailing list services
http://SparkLIST.com/

Aperian -- Connectivity/Hosting
http://www.aperian.com

>> UPCOMING EVENTS
www.cocktailswithcourtney.com

PUBLISHER'S NOTE

New Format:
We're trying our new format again this week. Instead of having the whole newsletter come to you via email, we'll be sending just a quick little synopsis with a link to the website. Please let us know what you think of it! If you respond and tell us what you think of the new format, we'll send you a pair of boxers!

Manners:
This week's Social Note is going up front because I was so horrified by the barbaric manners displayed by so many people at NYNMA's Venture Downtown luncheon and cocktail reception.

>> CYBER SCENE SOCIAL NOTES
In an attempt to help facilitate better networking for new media professionals and "Scenesters," here are some points that will be added in upcoming the weeks. They will be archived here.

** PLEASE! Whatever you do-do NOT pick food out of a buffet platter or chafing dish and then stick the food in your mouth! Use the serving silver to put the food on your plate or napkin!!!!

Thursday, May 17, 2001

The Cyber Scene in Denver ~ by Suzanne Lainson

I attended the Colorado Software and Internet Association’s
(http://www.coloradosoftware.org) 2001 APEX Awards at the Paramount Theater on May 17. Coors provided the beer, and there was food upstairs and down. I saw people from all the nominated companies, including Zoa Techmedia (http://www.zoetechmedia.com),  Spire (http://www.spiremedia.com), and Via West (http://www.viawest.net). The ceremony featured some very cool 3-D multimedia effects developed by Digital Metropolis (http://www.digitalmetropolis.com) using software from Anark (http://www.anark.com). Brian Smith, president of Sonant Communications (http://sonant.net), joined me during the presentations. Check out the list of winners: http://www.coloradosoftware.org/calendar/apexfinalists.htm.

After the APEX Awards were over, Dick Pankoski, president/CEO of Strategic Development, and Adam Martone from GreenRamp Software (http://www.greenramp.com), persuaded me to take the 16th Street Mall shuttle down to LoDo to catch SchmoozeIt, the semi-annual event put on by interactive marketing agency LH3 (http://www.lh3.com). Just one problem: it was raining, and none of us had raincoats or umbrellas. When we got off the bus, we all huddled under Dick’s coat and slogged our way several blocks to Sevilla's at The Icehouse. It was definitely a lively place--more than 500 people packed into the grotto-like club. Some of them were among the recently unemployed, but their partying abilities were not compromised in the least. I left early to get back to Boulder for the 10th Anniversary gathering of the Boulder Media Women. Julie Jacobs of PHD Management Group (http://www.juliejacobs.com) was kind enough to give me a ride back up to my car, so I didn't have to deal with the bus or a taxi. I was told SchmoozeIt continued on until nearly 11 p.m. There was dinner, a fashion show, dessert, music and dancing.

On May 23, I went to the Omni Interlocken for the Internet Chamber of Commerce meeting (http://www.icc.org). Six hundred people attended, give or take a 100. (You can see a list of everyone who signed up by going to http://data.icc.org/cgi/rsvp/showfields.pl?A052301). Mostly we mingled and checked out the exhibitors.

I saw the Spire guys, CEO Mike Gellman, Director of Marketing and Business Development Brandon Shevin and Jaxon Repp (don't know what he does, but they let him come). Erich Stein, head of Erich Stein Communications (http://www.erichstein.com) was there, so we discussed PR stuff with Richard Sharp, a partner with TrueTrek Communications (http://www.truetrek.com). I met Hillary Lane, a writer for Harmonic Telecom (http://www.harmonicinc.com), whom I knew through email, but had never met. I said hi to Dan Murray, who recently became marketing director of Persona (http://www.persona.com). I also chatted with Natalie Pyle, a technical recruiter with Hall Kinion (http://www.hallkinion.com/).

The next morning, May 24, I had to be up bright and early to attend the Boulder Technology Incubator (http://www.btionline.org) annual awards breakfast. It was held in Longmont at the Raintree Inn. I was a few minutes late, and everyone was already seated. So, there was no time for mingling. Catharine Merigold, a principal with Vista Ventures (http://www.vistavc.com), was at my table.

The big news of the morning was that the Boulder Technology Incubator is becoming the Colorado Technology Incubator.  President Lu Cordoba made the announcement. She talked about various programs (the Colorado Technology Alliance, the Colorado Technology Angels, the Colorado Technology Foundation) and how they would be expanding statewide. There would also be a
CTI-Longmont and a CTI-Boulder.

There was a panel discussion about mergers and acquisitions. Among the comments:

Matt McConnell, director of engineering, aggregation business unit, Cisco Systems (http://www.cisco.com), said that Cisco has made 63 acquisitions in 10 years. Ninety-seven percent of acquired employees had remained with Cisco at the two-year point. He recommends that when companies seek to be acquired, management should keep their employees informed because the employees are likely to talk. And they probably have erroneous ideas of the acquisition process.

Brad Feld, principal managing director of Softbank Venture Capital (http://www.sbvc.com), said that the days of VCs selling companies because they didn't know what else to do with them has ended. Valuations are no longer high. He also mentioned that selling to someone who has never bought a company before is a nightmare right now. And selling to a someone who has done two deals which have gotten screwed up is a bigger nightmare.

He talked about having his first company acquired and about how he went from being king of a 20-person company to one of 35 general managers. Even if you don't fit into to the new culture, fighting it destroys the value you brought to the merger. When asked how a company can become an attractive acquisition candidate, he suggested you dress up fancy, take a shower and cut your hair. He cautioned against telling everyone in your company every detail as the deal progresses. It can be unsettling, and if the company is public the situation is even more sensitive. But waiting to the very end can also be problematic.

Mike Franson, a partner with The Wallach Company (http://www.wallachco.com), said that revenue without profitability is meaningless. Before being bought out, negotiate a very good employment contract. Value is in the eye of the people with the checkbooks; they decide what they are buying and why. Make sure you consider all potential buyers. Even then, you are probably overlooking some. Publicizing that you are available for sale may bring in buyers you hadn't considered. But then again, if you do that and no one buys your company, people may begin to wonder what is wrong with it.

John Stewart, CFO for MyPoints.com (http://www.mypoints.com), said that a year after an M&A, 75% of the companies involved said they had regrets. Never do a deal with someone you don't trust or like. Before entering into negotiations, make sure everyone is willing to sell. He recommends that you keep your negotiations private during the letter of intent period.  If you tell too many people, you risk derailing the deal. Bring in a PR firm the day before the deal is going to be announced in order to
go over it with employees and to prepare them for upcoming changes.

When the event was over, I said hello to Erika Brown, founder of NetGoddess (http://www.netgoddess.com). She was talking to Jana Matthews, founder of Boulder Quantum Ventures (http://www.boulderquantumventures.com). On my way out, I stopped at the EnergyWindow (http://www.energywindow.com) table and met Jack Mason and Mike Usrey. Check eMileHigh (http://www.emilehigh.com) next week for my article about the company.

That afternoon I went to a presentation and cocktail hour at the Denver Athletic Club. The even was promoting the upcoming ITEC Expo (http://www.goitec.com) June 27 and 28 and the Colorado Internet and Software Association's role in the event. I hadn't been to the Denver Athletic Club in years, so it was fun to check it out – even though I didn't have time to see much. A big plus with that location is the convenient (and cheap) parking. The presentation was all about getting the most out of trade shows. Lots of useful tips.

Wednesday, May 16, 2001

Excite@Home in Soho

The two and a half day showcase held by Excite@Home peaked Wednesday night, May 16, at their Cocktail Party held at the Sky Loft in SoHo. The penthouse apartment where Jerry Seinfeld was married last year served as a model of how a house can be enhanced by the use of broadband. The space was modulated to include products by various vendors, including HP, Sharper Image and Infinity. Downstairs, a jazz singer straddled the side of a baby grand piano and cooed out sultry songs, while guests took refuge on the massage recliner and greeted the arrival of fellow guests. Alison Bowman, PR director at Excite@home, challenged me to a race of connection speed, that is-we each tried to log onto "The Cyber Scene" Web page the fastest. Using only a dial-up, I knew I had the disadvantage, but even I was surprised to see how slowly the page loaded. Regardless, I remained a good sport, and allowed Alison to show me around upstairs. The roof-deck patio and second floor were jumping with people more interested in the DJ spinning old-school riffs than in the broadband capabilities for future dwellings. I said hello to Bernardo Joselevich, who was outside by the pool, while I talked to Jeffrey Hearon of Global Broadband Strategies. He was predicting the winners and losers of the industry space. I found Chris Kelly, chief privacy officer of Excite@Home, inside at the oxygen bar, taking a quick hit of Oh La La before jumping on a conference call to California. He swore that the administered gas was giving him the second wind he needed to get through the night.

The Cyber Scene in Denver ~ by Suzanne Lainson

The Net Goddesses met at the Westin Tabor Center in downtown Denver on May 15. I couldn't make it, but Holly LeMaster and Erika Brown tell me lots of interesting people turned up, including Natalie Pyle of Hall Kinion, Sherri Rotert of Cooley Godward, Charissa Klotz of Sun Microsystems, Cynthia Ryan and Susan Osborne of the Forum for Women Entrepreneurs, Andrea Mudd of getamom.com, and Jennifer Gutierrez, triathlete and US Olympic team member. The meeting was all about networking and you can get the highlights by going to this link.
http://www.netgoddess.com/events_networking_presentation.shtml

The next day, May 16, the StartUp BaseCamp (http://www.startupbasecamp.com) happened at the Denver Marriott City Center. I got to the event a little before lunch, looked for an available seat, and sat down at the SpireMedia (http://www.spiremedia.com) table. There was CEO Mike Gellman, president Paul Schrank, VP sales/marketing Doug Meer, Brandon Shevin, Michael Rivera, V. J. Patel, plus Peter Cobb, co-founder and marketing VP of eBags (http://www.ebags.com), and Courtney DeWinter, head of DeWinter Communications. Jon Nordmark, CEO of eBags, stopped by the table to say hello. During the meal Mike talked about giving up smoking and we heard all about the big things about to happen for V. J. (Stay tuned for more.)

Brett Madden didn't get to join us because she had to man the Spire exhibit table out in the hall. To make her isolation a bit more palatable, her co-workers generously gave her Silly Putty to play with and took her an unclaimed dessert from the lunch table. (Key lime pie, as I recall.) Even more fun, she got to hand out absolutely great Soviet-propaganda-style posters of Alan Greenspan. I nabbed two, one for myself and one for some lucky friend of mine. Spire is running a contest whereby if you can find Greenspan at their site (http://www.spiremedia.com/stopalangreenspan/index.html), you win two free tickets anywhere (well, as far as $850 will take you).

After lunch I attended a session on marketing, PR, and sales. It was moderated by the above-mentioned Peter Cobb who noted that eBags' customer acquisition costs were lower than Amazon's. He introduced Peter Murane, founder of BrandJuice Consulting (http://www.brandjuice.com), who said that the main marketing question every company should ask at the very beginning is "Should we be in the market?" You don't want to find out two years down the road that you were wrong about your target audience. Another piece of advice: find a great positioning statement.

Jennifer Beauprez, a business writer for the Denver Post (http://www.denverpost.com), gave advice on approaching reporters:
* Give us real news and make sure it is timely. Change and numbers work well as story leads.
* Is it a story readers will care about?
* Keep in mind the questions journalists address: who, what, when, why, and how.
* Keep it simple. Reporters don't have time to translate technical jargon.
* Establish a relationship with a reporter. If you prove to be helpful, you'll get your name in the paper.
* She prefers to be contacted by email rather than fax or mail.
* She's doing fewer company profiles. It is embarrassing to do one and then the next day the company goes out of business.
* If you are going with a PR agency, look for people who have been journalists themselves.
* You can get reporters' attention without spending a ton of money. They like chocolate.

Nancy Whiteman, a partner with Ryan Whiteman (http://www.ryanwhiteman.com), said that sales strategy should not be an afterthought. Product lifecycles are the key; sales should be tailored accordingly. When products are first introduced, educating the target audience is important. Then education becomes less critical during the middle of the lifestyle. And for a mature product, which is often perceived as a commodity, you need people who can negotiate and close sales.
* Whether you use an internal sales force or outsource often depends on your budget.

The next panel I attended was "Strategic Alliances and Mergers." First up was Eric Goldreyer, founder/president of BedandBreakfast.com (http://www.bedandbreakfast.com), who started his business in 1995. His company maintains the largest database of bed and breakfast listings in the world, over 27,000. The company merged in 1999 with WorldRes. "We had a niche, they had technology to allow booking. It was a stock for stock deal. Fortunately we were not looking for a short term exit strategy." The merger made his job a lot harder in many ways and a lot easier in many ways. He is no longer the final decision-maker, but he doesn't have to manage a board and raise money. WorldRes has raised $90 million, so he has had the opportunity to learn how to raise that kind of money.

Also on the panel was Paul Berberian, co-founder/CEO of what was formerly known as Evoke Communications (http://www.evoke.com), now Raindance Communications. He mentioned that this was the first time the new name was used in a public forum. He said that Evoke raised a tremendous amount of money from strategic partnerships.
* It's important to understand what other companies' motivations are when contemplating partnerships with them. From Raindance's, perspective, now partnerships are largely about revenue. "What can they bring to grow our business?"

Jim Carroll, a partner with Cooley Godward (http://www.cooley.com), said he usually bets entrepreneurs that within a year after a merger or partnership they will lose control of their companies.

The final session of the day was "Going Up the Mountain Again ... What We're Doing Differently." John Funk, president/CEO of Quris (http://www.quris.com), who also founded InfoBeat and Exactis, said that he would do many of the same things all over again, but try to do them faster. Some of what he has learned:
* The team is critical. It is easy to fall into the trap of thinking that you can do it all yourself and as a consequence he took on way too much. Bring in people you can trust. Look at your skill set and find partners.
* Clarify what you can do as a business.
* Avoid bringing on investors and board members with a different vision. Instead, built a strong board that understands when to pull you back and when to support you. They will serve as a sounding board because you need to be able to talk to someone other than your staff.

Jared Polis, founder of BlueMountain.com and Proflowers.com (http://www.proflowers.com) mentioned the fickleness of the capital markets. It was frustrating for Proflowers to have to compete with 800Flowers, which was able to draw upon an enormous amount of VC capital. But now the environment has come full circle. "We're not competing against dumb money anymore." It is a great time to run a business, but a tough time to get funded. You can get people's attention now, but valuations are really painful at this point. "I would lean toward taking less capital than taking a less-than-fair valuation." Equity is extremely expensive at this point.

Gage Garby, president/CEO of eTrinsic (http://www.etrinsic.com), advised the audience to be prepared to understand the market you are dealing with. You need to share your ideas with as many people as possible. Feedback is everything.
* Persistence and determination are important.
* There is no quicker way to get your entrepreneurial spirit back than to work for a large company.
* If you have good values, good things will happen for your company.
* "I look back at the days of dumb money with fond memories." But too many people take money and then come up with justifications to spend it. On the other hand, take enough to get the job done.
* The most painful part of the job is letting people go. "That was one of the hardest things in my life. But we're here today because we made those tough decisions. If it doesn't hurt to let people go, there's something wrong."

Perry Evans, CEO of Webb.com (http://www.webb.net) said that selling MapQuest, which he founded, to AOL was very lucrative. "I wasn't the CEO who took the company public and that was the smartest thing I did."
* You need to constantly refer your business model. Don't get distracted by trends. Focus on business fundamentals. You have to live inside the markets that you're in. This is an era of consolidation. Make sure you have something significant to add.
* The real danger with VCs is that they can be poor partners.

That wrapped up the panels. Then before I headed home, I mingled during the cocktail hour. Carl Kalin of The Jedi Group (http://www.jedigroup.com) and I talked about market reseach tools. Dan Lubar of Data Distributions Corporation (http://www.datadistrib.com) and I talked about fixed wireless. And Rob Quinn of Colson-Quinn (http://www.colsonquinn.com) and I talked about boom-and-bust cycles in Texas and Colorado. Folks, it looks like it is time to dig out those cowboy boots.

Tuesday, May 15, 2001

NYNMA's Venture Downtown Entertaining Preview

However grim things may seem, a few companies are still out there and a few more are still pounding the pavement, hoping to catch some money crumbs that might fall from the venture capital table of wealth. The grandmother of all venture conferences, in a string of copycats, is the New York New Media Association's Venture Downtown. In its fifth year running -- yes, it started way back in 1996 -- this gem of a conference gives entrepreneurs something to aim for. The event welcomes significant companies and has a track record that leads the pack in investment-related events.

Venture Downtown won't take place until May 15th, but the VIP Celebration Dinner honoring past and present Venture Downtown presenting companies was held Tuesday, May 1st. Set atop Park Avenue on the 49th floor corporate dining room of JP MorganChase, over 100 refined digerati-types sipped wine and supped on sumptuous dinners while networking like the old network that was. Upon my arrival, I chatted with the respected PR 21 President/CEO Worldwide Gus Weill and Ira Hect who works at McGuire Woods and the EON Company's CEO and Founder Mitch Sonies and Marketing VP Melissa Grossman. Edventure Chairman Esther Dyson was about, interviewing with a BusinessWeek reporter. DesignerOutlet.com's Lauren Battista and iBreakfast's Alan Brody were mingling about as Brown Raysman Millstein Felder & Steiner Attorney Sarah Hewitt introduced me to the Brown of the firm, Peter Brown. One of Venture Downtown's prior success stories, The Feed Room, was well represented by CEO/Founder Jonathan Klein, who introduced me to CMO David Riemer. Mingling near mayorial candidate Mark Green were NYNMA Board Member and Tontine Associates General Partner Brian Horey, New York City Investment Fund President and CEO Kathryn S. Wylde and Ascend Partner David Bowen. Mr. Bowen was bragging, and rightfully so, about their recent investment and fund-raising. The Daily Deal's Martha Brown introduced me to colleagues Innessa Manning and Eryni Hazelton.

NYNMA Executive Director Alice Rodd O'Rourke promised to keep the announcements short, which she did when she thanked all the appropriate people. She mentioned that both JPMorgan and Chase had independently been corporate sponsors of NYNMA. Once they merged, they became a corporate partner of NYNMA (which translates to more $$ value sponsorship). Of course, she wouldn't be doing her job if she didn't mention that anyone who wanted to speak to her about getting involved as a corporate sponsor or partner should call her! Special kudos went to Tim Noble of JPMorganChase (formerly on the Chase side of things) and John Hall and Donna Manz, also of JPMorganChase (but formerly on the JPMorgan side.)

She admitted that while Alan Patricof was honorary chair, they did end up putting him to work more than they should have. Another hard-working contributor to the conference is I-Hatch's Chip Austin, who also got up to thank a few folks, such as Accenture Director-Integrated Marketing, Media & Entertainment McAdory Lipscomb Jr., who has provided expert coaching to the venture-backed companies since 1999.

Chip also thanked Graham Anderson of EuclidSR Partners, co-chair of the Selection Committee. As co-chairs, both Chip and Graham provided leadership to the 40-person Selection Committee, which focused on the screening and selection of the companies presenting their business plans at Venture Downtown. They also worked closely with the companies to prepare them to present at Venture Downtown, and assisted with other aspects of pulling off a great conference.

Chip went on to say that this year, the selection committee saw more companies embracing technology as the core aspect of their business, as opposed to just using it for services. There were firms in the B2B, B2C, ASP and P2P arenas. Some of the highlighted companies include Audium, Visible Tech-knowledgy, Unplugged Games, Data Synapse, Droplet, ClickRadio and Xanboo. After the speeches and between courses most people jumped up to continue networking. I chatted with PR 21's Renee Edelman, JPMorgan Chase VPs Anna-Marie Vallone and James Whitely. Virtual Growth President Stephen King and JP Morgan Chase VP Timothy Nobel were chatting, and I snapped a photo of Flatiron Partners Associate Jane Levy, Elizabeth Ferreira and Brown Raysman Attorney Dov Scherzer. Audium President and CEO Michael L. Bergelson introduced me to iXL Client Partner James Thomas, and Ericsson CyberLab Director Donna Campbell introduced me to ClickRadio Vice Chairman David Benjamin. Marsh Inc.'s Senior VicePresident/Client Executive New Media Michael Wiebe introduced me to Geller & Company Ronald Stratton. Before leaving, Mibrary.com's CEO James Alexander came over to say 'hello.' NYNMA-board members Sunny Bates (Sunny Bates Associates), Eric Goldberg (Unplugged Games) and Howard Greenstein (Sorceron) were making sure guests were meeting and greeting, and on the way out NYNMA's Ellen Auwarter and Dawn Barber made sure I met more people, including Metropolis Principal Paul Tumpowsky and Firered's Reed Piano. Whew! What a night - and what a kick-off to the season's most promising venture event yet!

From the Neighborhood, For the Neighborhood

While he's running for City Council in Queens, Eric Gioia and his support committee held a fundraising reception in the loft apartment of Oxygen Media's Cheryl Mills, who is based in Manhattan. Eric met Cheryl, whom you may remember from the Clinton era when she was the White House Counsel. In her Asian-African, sparsely but finely appointed loft we heard from Queens Councilwomen Helen Marshall (who is running for Borough President) and Christine Quinn. We learned a bit more about the district. Cheryl spoke with conviction about her positive impressions of Eric and his dream to help the community he came from. Eric has a site (it's under construction right now), but you can learn more about this go-getter and getter-for-people at: www.ericgioia.com.

Venture Downtown Back in Midtown

One of NYNMA's big events of the year recently hit the calendars of most connected new media and technology networkers. The big day arrived this week, on Tuesday, May 15th. The one-day conference, held at the New York Hyatt above Grand Central, started off with a power breakfast sponsored by PriceWaterhouseCoopers and Covington & Burling. After a hearty cup of "cawfee," attendees heard from such select companies as the eon company, Droplet Inc., Capital Thinking, CommerceHub and MobileMetrics, Inc. Cookies and caffeine at the next break gave guests enough of a jolt to pay attention during presentations by companies like TurboGenomics, Alphion Corp and The Book Report Network. Interactive Futures dropped a pretty penny on an extravagant and lovely lunch with many-a-offerings at the buffet. Between the kebobs, sushi and salads, there was barely room to sample each of the scrumptious desserts (but I tried!). Interactive Futures CEO Steve Shaer spoke eloquently before the panel, "The VC Cavalry is Coming: Are They Headed in Your Direction?" CNN Financial News Financial Editor Myron Kandel moderated the esteemed panelists: Patricof & Co. Ventures Founder Alan Patricof, RRE Ventures General Partner James Robinson and Flatiron Partners Managing Partner Fred Wilson. Patricof was the most verbose, and Wilson was the least. Was it perhaps due to a recent NY Times article that included the public announcement of the closing of Patricof & Co.'s offices? The company is moving in with sugar daddy and main supporter JP Morgan Chase.

In any case, many people stayed for the next set of presentations by Xanboo, Wasabi, ClickRadio and Audium. That led into the next meaty part of the day - the cocktail reception. With another extravagant display of food, chafing dishes and hors d'oeuvres, more than the usual suspects came to network. Of course, if you read this week's social note, my interest in talking to a good many of them was quelled by the shocking lack of manners on the buffet line.

I did, however, chat a bit with AnyInstructions.com EVP Robert O'Connell, VP Michael Miville and recent "import" Ricardo Porto. Geoportals.com Founder and CEO Thomas Gilbert told me they'll be profitable by Fall. 3Path.com CEO Brian Smiga told me he just hired two killer pros - CTO Laird Popkin (former CTO of Sotheby's and NewsCorp) and VP Marketing Yvette DeBow (who was Jupiter's VP of research and client services). He figures that Yvette's job at Jupiter prepared her well to market to researchers, which is 3Path.com's market.

Soliloquy's CTO Mark Lucente said that the day was a showcase of what attendees learned in business school - build a "real business." Clickradio's David Benjamin was pleased with the wonderful opportunity to present - due in part due to their unique market position. Clickradio SVP, Business Development & Strategic Planning Ben Hartman and VP Kathryn Kercher were also pleased with the results of the day. Private investor Ralph McElvenny, Virtual Growth's Ron Kustal and a few others were enjoying table side chats with views of the Chrysler Building. GasPedal Ventures' Andy Sernovitz and Dmitry Zabarko, Pillsbury Winthrop Attorneys Donovan Burke, Emily Campbell and Ronald Fleming, and groups of trios throughout the space indicated that many involved conversations were going on. I also met NYC Economic Development Corp Special Advisor for Strategic Alliances Matthew Cohen, Venture Architect Linda Lewis and Chicago-based Vcapital Laurence Hayward. They all seemed pleased with the day's activities and companies. Between the "real businesses" being presented, the power meals and the networking, NYNMA presented yet another successful round for its 5th Venture Downtown.

Monday, May 14, 2001

A Spring Harvest

The last stop on Monday night, May 14th, was worth the trouble, despite my weariness. City Harvest was hosting their Generation Harvest Spring Bash at Light in midtown. Dan LaRosa, manager of volunteer services, told me all about the program and its mission to rescue food from restaurants and corporate cafeterias across the city, and to deliver them to soup kitchens around Manhattan. David Steingart was manning the booth in the sign-up booth in the far right corner of the room, but the crowd seemed more content to imbibe the good wine and sample the treats donated by area restaurants. Layla, the Middle Eastern bistro in Tribeca, lent a buffet of baba ghannouj and other Mediterranean snacks, while other shops and restaurants like Godiva, Petrossian and Tom Orlando Catering contributed a range of delicacies to the fete. As Buzz Partners Robin Goetz and Carrie Brenner prepared to head off to another bar, they told me about their PR firm on Canal Street. By then, I was ready to make my way home.

Bits, Bytes and an Ole!

Even if Cinco de Mayo was last week, it didn't deter anyone from sipping a few margaritas and cervazas at this month's "Bits, Bytes and Bar," hosted by The Downtown Alliance on Monday, May 14, at Chevy's Fresh Mex in the Embassy Suites Building. The crowd, a festive bunch - even sans the sombreros, chewed on tacos and nachos and were a festive bunch. Ming from YoNewYork, who donned a great pair of blue shades that matched his shirt, and Francois Meale were chatting about the current job outlook in the city and their love of music over mainframes. Later, attorney Glenn Wolther filled me in on the long and honorable history of matadors and bull fighting. Allison Henke, economics developer for Downtown Alliance, was showing off her very cute snake-skin loafers, and lamenting over the demise of Kozmo. She and I agreed that we are both too spoiled to go to Blockbuster again ... plus they don't have Ben & Jerry's.

Journalists on the Alley

The week started out strong with a full itinerary of events to attend on Monday, May 14. My first stop was a panel discussion hosted by NYSIA at IBM's offices on Madison. The presentation showed software companies how they can tap into the power of the media. The event, held in a conference room, lured a full house by serving sandwiches, pasta salad and cookies, not to mention a star-studded panel. Heavy-hitters like Jayson Blair from the New York Times and Richard Turner from The Industry Standard, were there to lend their insights on what makes a press release sizzle. Erin Joyce of AtNewYork, Doug Mintz from Venture Capital Weekly, Ann Wheatley of Alley Cat News and Mark Walsh of Crain's New York added prestige and perspective on the topics at hand. Bruce Bernstein, president of NYSIA, had just a moment to chat about the night's topic while he choreographed the set-up for the panel, which got a late start. The attendees didn't seem to mind, however, as they schmoozed with other members and sampled one more chocolate-dipped dessert.

Friday, May 11, 2001

Shakers & Stirrers and Bits & Bytes

Perlman Pledges Allegiance
Share, Share, That's Fair
Quantum Invests in Cellmania

CONDOLENCES

Condolences to Barry Kluger on the recent death of his 18-year old daughter, Erica Kluger. She was killed in a car accident on April 6th in Scottsdale, AZ. Some of you may remember Barry from his early days at Prodigy as a PR executive and from his current post as principal of his own PR firm Kluger Media Group in Phoenix. Barry can be reached at: barrykluger@barrykluger.com

ADV ~ NYNMA Venture Downtown

Macaroni & Cheese. Stocks & Bonds. NYNMA Membership & Venture Downtown 2001
Some things were meant to go together. Register now for NYNMA's Venture Downtown 2001 and we'll include a 1-year NYNMA membership! On May 15th, Venture Downtown 2001brings you 24 presenting companies who are impacting investment trends, your business & your future. Learn the industry trends to watch for from Joel Klein, Alan Patricof, Fred Wilson, & James Robinson IV. Pre-register by May 11, contact Eddie Scannell, mailto:escannell@nynma.org or call 212.785.7898 ext. 245.

The Cyber Scene in Denver ~ by Suzanne Lainson

On May 1, I was at Denver's DoubleTree Hotel for the TiE-Rockies meeting. This one, attended by about 150 people, focused on venture capital. Suzy Thevenet and Linda Wackwitz, attorneys with HRO (http://www.hro.com/), were there. So were Sueann Ambron, dean of the University of Colorado-Denver business school (http://www.cudenver.edu/business); Maya Iyengar, CTO of TamTam (http://www.tamtam.com); Derrin Smith, chairman/CEO of GETGO (http://www.getgocorp.com); and Deborah Arhelger, managing partner of DuoVoce Group (http://www.duovoce.com).

The panel represented $2 billion in available investment funds. They all agreed that it's important to set money aside in reserve - particularly now that times are tougher. Some other comments:

Arjun Gupta, founder of TeleSoft Partners (http://www.telesoftvc.com), talked about the challenges of taking a company public and how difficult it can be to keep it trading above its offering price.

Ravi Mohan, a general partner at Battery Ventures (http://www.battery.com), said that this is the toughest environment in which to raise second-round funding. But if you are starting a new company, it is a good time to raise capital. Be prepared, however, to do more with less. He also noted that VC limited partners are no longer worried about return rates; they are worried about return of capital

Brad Feld, a principal managing director of Softbank's venture capital fund (http://www.sbvc.com), said that when they raised their first fund, they called it SBVC Fund 4 so "we would look like we knew what we were doing."

"We knew the [dot-com] party would end, but we were hoping we would die first. Now it's back to business. The crack that we were all smoking for the past three years has been used up. We figured out it was over six months after it was over."

He set up the SBVC incubator, Hotbank, so that he can be physically close to his portfolio companies. Hotbank also offers an entrepreneur-in-residence program (one EIR, Srikant Viran, founder of KBToys, was the panel moderator), and an entrepreneur affiliate program, which allows entrepreneurs to have a place to hang their hats between companies.

Speaking as the only SBVC partner out of nine who doesn't live in California, Brad noted that "the difference between Colorado and California is that California is a demonic and toxic place." He also noted that Colorado is extremely business friendly. Plus it is big enough to be interesting and small enough to allow you to have an impact. (But, it was pointed out by the two California panelists, that Colorado universities need more international students, Coloradoans are too laid back and need to feel the pressure to get the job done, and Colorado companies need better sales and marketing efforts.)

Next up for TiE-Rockies was a social networking event. By a show of hands, whitewater rafting seemed to be the most popular choice

On May 4, ad/design/PR firm Sonant Communications (http://www.sonant.net) had its Quarto de Mayo party at its downtown Boulder offices. Although rainy weather kept us inside, the margaritas were great, and a mariachi band serenaded us. President Brian Smith, Creative Director John Farmer, and PR Director John Caprio were there playing host. Mark Weakley, from Holmes, Roberts, & Owens, stopped by to enjoy the FAC. Joe Pezzillo and filmmaker Joel Haertling (http://vr.dv8.net/hellfire/archo/bio.html) said hello before they had to head off to a film festival. Joel was telling me about the restaurants where he likes to hold a party, particularly Sacre Blue in Denver. Andre Pettigrew, now a consultant about town, Larry Nelson, from the World Wide Web radio show (http://www.w3w3.com) and I had an interesting discussion about lessons learned concerning the Internet bubble. Andre maintained that it was all worth it since the industry moved along much faster than it might have done without the lure of great wealth.

The party was still going strong when I left to pack for an early morning flight to Houston.

slainson@thecyberscene.com

NY Venture Group's InfoTech Forum

This week's InfoTech forum once again proved that Burt Alimansky runs the best breakfast in town. The NY Venture Group still manages to draw an impressive crowd, especially in these down times. That it is clearly due to the pertinence and prestige of the forum's guest speakers. (Holding the breakfast at such elegant venues as The Fifth Club doesn't hurt either.)

Today's featured speaker was e-Steel CEO Michael Levin (www.e-steel.com). His talk was essentially a pragmatic comparison of pre-bubble/post-bubble perspectives on running an online business, with e-Steel as a case-study. The pre-bubble perspective was, of course, filled with the usual jokes and anecdotes that sized up the typical Internet CEO of yesteryear as a "spineless, gutless, mindless body whose head couldn't be distinguished from its bottom." (Yes, that was the punchline for his opening joke!) Sure, I think that it's pretty well established that there are companies that should never have seen the light of day. However, Levin's post-bubble perspective was certainly enlightening. The newest mantra in Levin's words is "reposition, restructure and refocus." He went on to elucidate how e-Steel had to radically shift its business model from that of a public-exchange operator to a private-exchange software company.

There was your fair amount of schmoozing to be had both before and after Levin's speech. I was glad to run into some old friends from the heady days of early 2000. Bob Dunn, senior partner of The Catalyst Group (www.IT-Catalyst.com), was in good spirits. Given Catalyst's model of serving as a middle market intermediary and advisor for mergers, acquisitions and divestitures, it seems that there is a lot Bob has to be happy about in these times of extreme divestment. I also had the pleasure of talking with Hal Wolff of International Technologies and Finance (www.ITFLLC.com), who said the firm is holding up well despite the downturn. Steve Berman and Alex Meshechok of Synergy Capital were also on hand and in fine form, as always.

Arthur Lane, a lawyer from the Long Island firm Lamb & Barnosky (www.lambbarnosky.com), was pleasant as always. I had a good talk with Bobby Minter of the PR firm Rainbow Media (www.rmedia.com), who got a real kick out of my company's marketing plan of virtual reality webcasting out of a VW Bus. (My company's a Web3D company called VirtuWorlds, which is getting set to launch a B2B exchange for Web3D commodities (www.VirtuWorlds.com). I also had the pleasure of meeting Casey Kim of InfraBasic (www.infrabasic.com). He said that his investment firm would be very interested in helping VirtuWorlds get funded, provided we had the right plan for him. Let's go, Casey!

I had an enjoyable stay at the Mindshare Ventures booth (www.mindshareventures.com) and good talks with their CEO Guy Epstein and his Marketing Assistant Funda Ibrikoglu. They're busy preparing for their conference, scheduled to be held at Baruch College on May 30. I know I will be attending, and hopefully (if we make the cut) taking part in Mindshare's proprietary format of "speed-pitching" to the venture capitalists on hand.

Finally, no Burt Alimansky breakfast would be complete without an exhilarating conversation with Mark Elis, the PEO evangelist of Administaff (www.administaff.com), and probably the sharpest man on the floor. What cutting insight! To be fair, I did also have a great chat with Don Schatz of HR Logic (www.hrlogic.com). He's just rounding out the recent ramp-up of HR Logic's New York staff and is excited to become a bigger presence on the scene. The world needs more PEOs like Mark and Don- that's for sure.

~ T. Martin