Wednesday, October 13, 1999

From the Hills to the (other) Valley

As the fireplace crackled and dark frothy steins of Irish Cream ales were poured, the technological go-getters poured into The Plough and the Stars bar on Chestnut Street in Philadelphia for the inaugural joint venture of Silicon Philly and "Cocktails with Courtney" on Wednesday, October 13th. Bob Robinson, of a well-established Philadelphia background, and major entrepreneur himself with his Fourth Medium Productions company and investments as diverse as a Rap Label and a kids fitness video company, is the epicenter of what's going on new media-wise in this heralded historic town. This night he greeted the over 70 guests and shuttled some into the Cigar Room for interviews on the 1st Philadelphia "Cocktails with Courtney" Web cast. The first Web cast was done in Austin, by Click Hear, Inc. Among the interviewees were Peter Horn, who just moved to Philly two weeks ago for his startup,; Lennart Hagegard of Select Ventures; Deni Kasrel of Telenium; Brad Broker (what a name!) of; and Patrick McGee and Theta Pavis of were all wonderfully willing and witty candidates of our Web cast. You can see them live! at: and

While there are mostly healthcare and biotech companies in the "city of brotherly love," there are significant numbers of diverse Internet startups. For instance, William Wiederseim of the Consortium for the Advancement of Manufacturing in Pharmaceuticals was there talking with Joel Ginsparg of Bullseye Interactive (an interactive TV company). Jeffrey Tannenbaum of DreamFront was intensely curious in what my business model is, and dissected it with Patrick Braun of AccessReady. Some of the early arrivers who I met were Stephanie Sprenkle and Jerry Goldman (who I met at Creative Good's party) of his firm, Kathy Spurlock of, which focuses on the job market for professionals in Philadelphia and James Altland who consults in financial aspects for new media firms. Vladimir Walko of Medical Growth Partners was there and Michael Neil of eCal told me of their recent success in renting a diner across from the Javits Center during Internet World for meetings and press.

NY-based Forbes writer Caroline Waxler recommended her friend Todd Peterson and his partner of Foster Chamberlain attend this initial soiree, and we mused over potential stunts to ensure coverage in the "Cyber Scene." No stunt needed this night! Ric Kolenda and his partner of their two-week old Project Make Waves company were ultra hush-hush about their new venture, but paid tribute to Bill Rudin's 55 Broad Street, which Peter Key, Staff Writer for the Philadelphia Business Journal toured last week. This night Peter and some pals came to see me in the elegant Irish bar set in the original Corn Exchange building.

The forest green walls and tall cream columns with ornate details set off modern Impressionistic-like paintings in this bizzy bubbly bar. The Philly Set sets out in fine finery as well, as indicated by Paul Anthony in his black and white checked jacket and Jack Davis of DVFG in his muted-toned suit. Kevin Holohan of Silent Partner, one of the organizers in this night's effort, was a bit more casual but showed off his healthy tan in a blue polo shirt. I, in my green suit and floral scarf, made the rounds and then hopped aboard the train, back to NY after a whirlwind tour!