Thursday, January 25, 2001

The Cyber Scene in Denver ~ by Suzanne Lainson

On January 25, I checked out Denver's first Pink Slip party, thrown by PR/marketing firm LH3 and held in the auditorium of the REI store (which is in a converted museum and has a three-story climbing wall right in the middle of everything). I got there before it started so I wandered around looking at end-of-season sales and trying on snowboarding jackets. Then after I had killed enough time, I went upstairs to the event. I talked to LH3 president/founder Lauri Harrison and VP Donna Crafton and to Vicki Steere, president/founder of while I waited for the pizza to come out. A rep from Guinness was also there handing out his company's new stout-in-a-bottle. Eager job seekers were filing in as I headed out to my next event. Since this was a sell- out, another one has been scheduled for February 22.

Then it was off to The Hotel Monaco, the hip luxury hotel in downtown Denver, for the launch of the Front Range Forum for Women Entrepreneurs. When I got to the lobby I noticed some familiar faces and realized it was a group of former Olympic skaters including Kristi Yamaguchi and Tara Lipinski (who is all grown up and is looking as tall and willowy as any 5'2'' person can). Their ice show, Stars on Ice, had performed in Denver the night before. FWE started in 1993 in Silicon Valley. Co-founder/CEO Denise Brosseau was in from San Francisco to speak to the gathering. Also addressing us were Louise Atkinson, senior advisor to Governor Owens and the Office of Technology and Innovation, and Cynthia Ryan and Susan Osborne, co-presidents of the Front Range FWE chapter One hundred women are listed as FRFWE founding members. It's a who's who of Colorado women running tech companies, handing out venture capital, and providing legal and other services. Erika Brown, president/founder of NetGoddess, introduced me to Kelly Brandner, VP of public relations firm Citigate Cunningham, which handles the FWE account. She recently moved up from Austin to open up the Denver office. I also had a chance to meet Kathy Simon, the new director of the University of Colorado's Deming Center for Entrepreneurship, and assistant director Cindy Scheopner. A pet project of mine is CU's Conference on World Affairs. We talked about possible synergies between the two programs. For example, Leonard Riggio, CEO of Barnes & Noble, will be on campus in April to address business students and will stay on to participate in the conference.

One January 26, I attended Hi-Tech Friday's at Evoke Communications (soon to be called something else). It was pizza and Guinness at this event as well. Todd Vernon, Evoke's CTO, and I were talking about various networking events in the area and who gets invited to which ones. John Robinson, director of business development for ad/design firm ProMotif was telling me about his company's move from Boulder to downtown Denver. (ProMotif created the Convergence Corridor multimedia campaign for the Metro Denver Network.) He said the move has been a good one, but of course as soon as they relocated, they picked up three new Boulder clients. Cathy Ewing, executive director, and Gayle St. John, finance director, of the Colorado Software & Internet Association were talking about having moved into new offices in Lafayette. Among the others I saw there were Stuart Hubbard, a principal with integrated communications firm charney/GBSM, and Jeff Finkelstein, director of consumer value and retention at Persona, which provides technology for online permission marketing and privacy management.

As a side trip, I checked out, right across the street from Alfalfa's, a healthy living grocery and deli which is a Boulder institution and has morphed into Wild Oats, the natural foods retail conglomerate. The .com part of MassageSpecialists comes from the fact that all appointment scheduling can be done via the Web. But the company also plays a role in the local tech economy through the companies it serves (e.g., Level 3, NetLibrary, Freewave Software). According to president/founder Dirk McCuistion, "We address specific injuries, especially repetitive stress injuries, to get specific results. We assess, treat, and reeducate. This leads us into biomechanics and ergonomics." The whole tech/massage linkage is a typically Boulder kind of thing. "People who are attracted to jobs in this area respond to companies that provide them lifestyle services."