Friday, February 09, 2001

The Cyber Scene in Denver ~ by Suzanne Lainson

On January 31 I attended the Internet Chamber of Commerce After Hours at the Denver Design Center, which by day is open to interior decorators wanting to visit showrooms and by night is available for events. It was the liveliest ICC gathering I have been to in months so either the Design Center energizes people or lots of them are looking forward to the new year. Nearly 1000 registered for the event and by the looks of it, most showed up.

I ran into Brandon Shevin, director of marketing and business development for SpireMedia, who told me CEO Mike Gellman was out celebrating his birthday. I spotted CEO Sherri Leopard and business development manager Lisa Sundling over by the Leopard Communications table. I also noticed Joe Samuel, formerly deputy director of the Governor's Office of Policy and Initiatives, who now handles global strategic alliances for FirstWorld Communications. And I said hello to Carl Kalin, CEO of the Jedi Group. Most of my time was spent talking to FrogMagic's marketing/PR director Marci Gower and business development director Chris Lear. Marci told me about FrogMagic's merger with ZipSend and about a recent promotion involving free mini-gift-packs that grew from 20 names to 30,000 in just one weekend. Chris told me that he's also a sports writer and that his book "Running with the Buffaloes" has gotten some great national press. (According to USA Today, "The book is to cross country what John Feinstein's A Season on the Brink is to college basketball.") Then, Brad Spirrison, editor of a new online business publication, eMileHigh, sat down to join us. He had just the week before moved from Chicago, where he had been managing editor of ePrairie. The link between FrogMagic and eMileHigh/ePrairie is founder Jared Polis, who has invested in both projects. Later I introduced Brad to Andre Pettigrew, marketing VP for FastIdeas, and Erich Stein, president of PR firm Erich Stein Communications.

On February 1 I attended the opening night of the DUET Conference, a black tie event held at the historic Paramount Theater in downtown Denver. Since most of the women arrived in long dresses, the valet parking was a godsend. The evening started out with cocktails and hors d'oeuvres in the upstairs lounge. As I was eating my crabcakes and salmon, I was joined by Deborah Kenly, director of PR and client relations for the Meritage Private Equity Fund. She told me about the non-profit she is also involved with, 911families, which provides support for the families of emergency workers. Then we went back downstairs and into the theater to hear a presentation by Dan Nica, Romania's Minister of Communications and Information Technology. The evening also featured entertainment by New York soprano Lynne Vardaman and pianist Marc Peloquin.

The next day I attended the telecom conference, which was held at the Embassy Suites Hotel in downtown Denver. I had a chance to talk to Heather Lindemann, account director at PR firm AlexanderOgilvy, about national press coverage for the Convergence Corridor campaign.

One of the conference presenters was Masood Jabbar, Sun's executive VP for global sales operations. He had the following to say:

* Sun's old slogan was, "We put the dot in" Now, he joked, it's, "We put the old in old economy."
* Sun has evolved from being about work stations to servers to network computing. In 1995 Sun bet the company on three anticipated trends: the Internet, bandwidth, and Java. The company focuses on a knowledge-based workforce and will go to great lengths to pull together a team. When Sun acquires a company, it buys small teams and then protects what matters most.
* The industry isn't about computers anymore; it's about services. Anything with a digital heartbeat will be on the net. The telecom model of today will be the computing model of tomorrow. The future will bring: 1. Massive scale. 2. Continuous real-time computing. 3. An integratable stack. Sun will spend $6 billion dedicated to these three bets.

I had a chance to talk one-on-one with Don Nica, who was only making two stops during this visit to the US: Washington, DC. and Denver. He told me that Romania is attracting considerable investment attention as companies are looking for new markets in Eastern Europe. His country supports multiple cable companies and is highly competitive. Then he told me something that really got my attention. Romania will be the first country in the world to offer 3G wireless. Lucent is the company behind this.

At lunch I sat with Tracy Ehlers, Sally Hamilton, and James LaVita from the University of Denver who were there to find funding for an Internet project in Costa Rica. Tracy and I work together on the University of Colorado's Conference on World Affairs. On my way out, I stopped to talk to Nikki Maloney, economic development specialist for the city of Denver. Because of the energy crisis, our conversation centered around environmental issues. The next day there was a ski trip to Copper Mountain, which I regretfully had to pass on. But Erika Brown, founder/principal of NetGodess, said it was great.