Wednesday, May 12, 1999

Big Blue in a Big White Space

IBM's commercials have propelled Big Blue's image from that of a stodgy, stiff, structured and inflexible firm to one of the big companies that's (maybe) the most with it. And now they're targeting Silicon Alley companies in a brave new way. After struggling with ineffective reseller models, IBM came up with their Web Integrators initiative. This program targeted over 100 interactive firms that are not just doing cool sites, but also running critical back-end applications. In exchange for education, training and certification in IBM products and relationship management topics, these companies will offer IBM products and services as a viable "e-business" solution (there's that word again) for their clients. And to kick-off the grand plan was a party at Earthpledge Foundation's fabulously modern carriage house on Wednesday, May 12th. Monte Bartlett of Surge Interactive and Kyle Shannon of were two of the firms there, as part of the program. Sam Albert, who tipped me off to this event (thanks, Sam!), dropped
me another revolutionary sound byte with, "IBM is changing its name to EBM" in reference to all the e-mphasis on their "e" words (just look at their ads: e-vulcan, e-cuisine, e-profits, e-tcera).

Leslie Hoff introduced me to the legendary labor attorney Theodore Kheel, who is president of the Earthpledge Foundation and Bob Timpson  (general manager of IBM's software group), who came down from Somers, NY. Stuart Gannes (VP, Internet applications, AT&T Labs) came out from of Menlo Park, as did Ryan Magnussen (CEO, Zentropy). We spoke for a bit about the benefits of growing a company organically and building value, and how Zentropy has done that and still grown 300% a year since May 1995. We sampled a bit of the brewed and bottled beer from Cooperstown, NY, (home of the National Baseball Hall of Fame). Nommegang was the darker, fruitier beer, and it went quite well with the homemade, fresh mozzarella that was being spun in front of our eyes. Warm and soaked in Pumpkin Seed oil and sea salt (that’s the key!), this mozzarella was so delicious I had to find out more!

Jonathan White, originally a computer professional, and his wife, Gina, started the Egg Farm Dairy and are intent on "Setting the Dairy Industry Back 100 years." I'll happily go with them if I can have more of that yummy CHEESE too! :) Now, you may be thinking, "what the heck has gotten into Miss Courtney with this cheese fascination." Well, I'm not the only one who loved it -- this company has the distinction of being the only non-Internet investment in Silicon Alley investment darling Bob Lessin's portfolio.

Mark Swanson (president, iXL) and I chatted for a while about all the interesting things he did before coming to NYC. He was the iXL's worldwide CTO, and his first two companies (Digital Image and Swan Interactive Media) were both bought out. Pliny Gale (relationship manager, web integrator initiative) also had some interesting comments on cyber scenes and will be comin' round to my party in Dallas.