Friday, December 10, 1999

The Cyber Scene in Los Angeles ~ by Suzanne Hornwood

VIC Breakfast With Jake Winebaum
The pre-event crowd hummed and packed into the small plaza outside the hall.
New faces and old, I chatted with the competition, Adam Halpern (strategy
and technology) and Clive Pinder (Client Partner) from Viant. This year's
holiday buzz includes their Della and James project (
which they built at Viant and then helped migrate the operations in-house to

Fran Pomerantz from the Pomerantz Group (, a VIC board member since '94, never has an open dance card at these events.
Fran is consistently surrounded by, and deep in conversation with, the
industry's top hiring managers, friends, and key executive talent.

Seductive Technologies, more than just a great company name, has Claudine
Wolas and Judi Laing, owners, busy focusing on content creation in the
health and fitness specialty. Allison Corson from MapQuest
( mentioned an upcoming redesign to more
specifically cater to business users, leisure users and commuters.

Phil Lelyveld, looming a good foot and a half over my head, has a tall order
to fill at Disney. Responsible for the transition of analog to digital, Phil
has been uniting all of the business units and upgrading the technologies.
Other familiar faces included Michelle Kleinert from, Jennifer
Happillon from cFour Partners (, and Heather Kienzle
and Matt Sheriff from Internet Wire. We were soon shuffled into the hall and
seated. Breakfast was nibbled during table conversations and business cards
were a'flyin.

While Jake Winebaum unfolded plans for eCompanies
( the move to the new offices that morning, plans
to roll out one company a month, the separate operation of the venture
group, the most impressive news was a show stopper.

Winebaum's PowerPoint slide and his very serious voice unfolded that
eCompanies had just paid 7.5 million dollars for the domain
name. He compared the purchase to buying property in Beverly Hills many
years ago and assessing the current worth. I'm sure we could all see the
value proposition, but the initial shock was still worn on neighboring

eCompanies operates under the assumption that there are ten people out
there, possibly smarter, possibly quicker, developing the same idea. This
assumption of a competitive landscape will propel them farther and faster
and, most importantly, encourage them to do it better. eCompanies is in the
business of ideas. Taking a suggestion from his young daughter to create a
party planning Web site, the impetus for eParties, Winebaum chimed in that,
"Ideas can come from anywhere."

The Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills has never seen such a crowd for this
monthly breakfast. In fact, if you tried to get in and couldn't, you weren't
the only one. VIC leaders were pleased that every seat in the house was
full, with some people standing, but regretted having to notify people
earlier in the week that it was sold out. In total there were some 330
people crowding around Jake Winebaum and the ideas that have formed into Los
Angeles' newest (for now) incubator.