Gleaming marble walls and floors paved the way in the spotless lobby to a multitude of elevator banks. And on the 33rd floor of one of these lovely vertical transporters, I found myself in the expansive, clean offices of the Downtown Alliance (DA) at 120 Broadway. It was Thursday, July 15, and it was the AlleyCat Investors Network Salon. Sharon Greenberger, VP, Economic Development of the DA, looked lovely in her floral print dress and she explained that at High Noon she was at 15 Gold Street where the newest hotel in the downtown area just opened. This Holiday Inn, which is in back of a Plugged In building, shares the technology wiring, and thus offers T1 connections in every room at "work stations" instead of traditional desks. It sounds like a poor-corporate-travelers dream come true! I plan on checking it out and will let you know what's up with it -- or you can go see for yourself!
Mary Jo Fahey, accomplished writer and evangelist for VRML and Rich Media, introduced me to Bruce Johnson, president ICSES, who has developed a technology and formed a company for transferring emergency medical and financial information wirelessly via the Internet. Bruce came up with the idea in '94 after reading how ambulances in East LA couldn't communicate with hospitals to learn where to bring earthquake victims. Stunned at this gap in communications, especially in light of the ease with which he could e-mail a fellow NASA colleague around the world, propelled him to develop this technology and company. Mary Jo also introduced me to Murat Aktianoglu, who developed the Cosmo Browser, and who is now working with Andrew Grengross at TheNextWeb.com, developing 3D interfaces for the web. I met Andrew several years ago at the Match.com party at the Merc Bar. He and his lovely wife, Natalie, met over e-mail on Match--a match was certainly struck and now they're living happily here in New York. Ronnie Morvay of HydraWeb, Greg Belmont of Grand Central Holdings, Howard Schwartz of HeyNetwork.com were also there to learn about some hot new companies. And Christopher Jones, CFO of The Productivity Works, which will be providing alternative access to the Internet through nonvisual means also came out to hear about the presenters.
Susan Shaw, president of Hyperspace Cowgirls was in a beautiful orange and red silk dress, which reminded me of one of my grandmother's special handpainted dresses from the 20s. We had a quick chat with Robertson MacMillan of Grubb & Ellis, who had a lovely bump on his head with stitches. Seems he was the unfortunate end of another head and basketball in the game the night before. Nearby I met attorney John Sachs and Richard Radsch, SVP, Financial & Specialty coverages Reliance National, outfitted in a classic blue seersucker suit, which reminded me of my dear grandfather from New Orleans. Stephen Negron proclaimed happily to Jason Brown of W-Trade that he has gotten his emails down to 30! I suppose that's an accomomplishment!
Anna Wheatley, editor-in-chief of AlleyCat, announced the show was about to begin and the 70 or so guests gathered 'round a large conference table in a room overlooking the Hudson.
The dark suited, Hermes tie-wearing men and fashionably-attired women gathered round to hear from some young upstarts. James McKenna of SmartResume.com where users can use the web-based service to update Web pages, send e-mail, use a rolodex and build a resume on-line spoke for a while about his company. After filling out a form, the application will send out your parameters and qualifications to various job boards, and returns with results. Neil Mayle of PageTalk outlined the easy way you can personalize your Web pages with your voice, simply by using the telephone. Some examples of current users were a ski resort reporting slope conditions, a joke site yuckin' it up and a grandmother listening to her new grandchild crying! We laughed at the implications of other uses (in a more romantic vein) for leaving personal voice messages for their significant others on Web sites. Gary Cheng and Howard Yen announced that as of June 30th, VirtualStockExchange.com was acquired by Bob Lessin and Dawntreader backed Predict-It. They spoke mostly about Predict-It and all the capabilities it has and will have. Philip Letts, CEO of Beenz, in a witty English manner told us about bean counters and traders. Earning beenz while on-line sounds like a good idea, and the banking themes work with this already successful startup. They're entering their 3rd round of financing, have 200 sites in the beenz network and 10 -60 people worldwide (NY, SF, London, and soon to be in Japan). A final and impromptu presentation was made by Simon TaufiQue of GreenButton.com. Suited up in a lime green shirt, he told us about his vision for providing technical service for consumers with his community of gurus for products ranging from hand-held units, PCs, televisions and the like. We heard about the scaling up plans and his early needs for getting the business off the ground.
Afterwards I chatted briefly with Richard Frazer and James Feldesman of Cowan Financial Group, Edward Reilly, Jr. of LeBoeuf, Lamb, Greene & MacRae and attorney Edmund Shangold who is also working in the IT department of Henry Holt publishers and is fascinated with the Internet industry--and has the skills to match a great startup! Kenzo Hashimoto, VP and Senior TV Producer of Gazeta USA, Inc. interviewed me and other attendees for a Tokyo TV show. When the show airs -- I'll letcha know! Elevator pitches were flying around as I introduced myself and met Christopher Forbes, president of William Andrew Inc.--publishers who just spun off an Internet company.