Wednesday, January 19, 2000

The Alley gets more charitable

Maybe it's the enthusiasm people tend to get when a new year starts, or maybe it's the plethora of well-funded new media companies in New York, but Silicon Alley is starting to give back to the community more frequently. It started with smallish fundraisers for MOUSE ( and HEAVEN (, although the funds received weren't so small. And as more companies got funded and went public, corporations began to exercise social responsibility by becoming generous with pre-IPO, stock and cash to charities.

Last year ended with my black-tie benefit for The Fresh Air Fund, and Judith Messina of Crain's New York picked up on this wonderful trend in an article on December 20. On Wednesday night, the Association for Interactive Media presented their "Evening of Charity" at the opulently redone Russian Tea Room. Sponsored by Roska Direct, AIM's Advisory Board and esteemed guests had the opportunity to choose from among five charities: The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, The Juvenile Diabetes Foundation, the World Wildlife Fund and Schools Online.

As guests arrived, large goblets of red and white wine were passed around with trays of salmon and caviar on crepes, quail eggs with caviar on toast, and oysters. I chatted with Ben Isaacson, executive director of AIM ,and Jon Roska, CEO of Roska Direct. Both men were thrilled at this evening's prospects and energy of good will. Networking being my prime reason for being there, in addition to hearing Congressman Jerry Nadler speak, I made my way through the extravagantly mirrored and gold-leafed room. Kevin Lee, CEO, and Amy Zagin, event marketing manager LinkShare, were among the first two folks I spoke with.

Andy Sernovitz of GasPedal Ventures was entertaining a group of gentlemen nearby as I spoke with Jonathan Vick of BlinnPR, Irwin Hipsman of Vstream and Jim Kirchman of CyberSites. Jim was explaining how his community-generating site is among the friendliest out there. Ken Magill of Direct Marketing News and Amanda Hass of were meeting new people and mingling with Alice Rodd O'Rourke, NYNMA's executive director. Joe DiGeso, general manager of Time Warner Road Runner, and Honey Rodman, VP business services at Time Warner Road Runner, were two interviewees for the inaugural CyberScene TV show that I'll be debuting on January 31st. Scott Kerr of Real Media gave me a contact in their London office, for the upcoming London Cocktails with Courtney. Then, as I made my way back out, I ran into Key Compton of Solbright. After the gong sounded, guests made their way to their tables, and I headed into the crisp outdoor air on my way to the next event.