Thursday, February 01, 2001

The Cyber Scene in San Diego ~ by Lilia Phleger Benjamin

We have some really great weather out here in San Diego. And even though we know it, it often takes an Easterner to make us stop and truly appreciate it.

Such was the case earlier this week when I caught up with Marc Holden, newly relocated to San Diego from New York City. Marc, director of media sales for Madge.web, is also in charge of business development and new market alliances. Over lunch at the sunshine-filled Torrey Pines Café, I got a chance to hear why Madge.web is regarded as the "Largest Unknown Host" (WebHosting Magazine), and why he thinks that is about to change.

Madge.web, a European based content delivery provider, is setting up an office in San Diego after seeing the growth in our tech industry. Founder Robert Madge's strategy when he founded Madge Networks in 1986 was to enter and succeed in the European marketplace first, and then enter the US market as a solid contender. According to Marc, the strategy is now paying off, and Madge.web is winning awards and building some serious alliances, most notably with Inktomi (Madge.web is a founding member of the Content Bridge Alliance).

Marc is setting up a Madge.web Data Center here in San Diego, and despite our current energy crisis, he is looking forward to positive results from Madge.web's aggressive growth plan. In fact, he intends to use our energy "situation" to his advantage…as far as he is concerned, it's just one more reason to use Madge.web. Marc can be reached by email at

Search engine optimization was the buzz at the recent meeting of the San Diego eMarketers Association, a division of the San Diego Entrepreneurs Roundtable. (You may remember them as the San Diego Internet Roundtable…well, times have changed and to reflect San Diego's entrepreneurial spirit, AND include other tech industries, they have changed their name.) The eMarketers started about 1.5 years ago as a place for capital providers and senior officers to share information, and as one woman told me, "There are no account executives here, just the important people." Although apparently not qualified to join, I really enjoyed the presentation on search engine optimization by Dana Todd and Catherine Seda of Sitelab. As a matter of fact, it has been a long time since I have liked a presentation as much…Dana and Catherine play off each other in an entertaining vaudeville kind of way, and do they ever know their stuff! Luckily they passed out handouts, as not even my mother talks so fast.

And finally, remember last time when I mentioned indiqu? Well, I got to have a tour of what may be mobile entertainment's Willie Wonka's Chocolate Factory. If you have a head for gadgets and a desire for fun and games, then indiqu is a name that you need to know. I was met by Barbara Fitzsimmons, director of media relations, and shown the storyboards that illustrate all of indiqu's "channels". Three channels are active now-GameOn,, and Edge sports, with a fourth "Aura" coming online soon. Fifteen carriers worldwide, including Sprint and AT&T are helping indiqu ride the crest of the wireless wave right into the hands of today's youth market.

Shalabh Rustogi, director of ad sales and media technology, said that with the wireless industry so new, indiqu is not only working to innovate but to educate in order to find their customers. What really excites him though is the promise of "geo-marketing", calling it the closest form of interactive direct marketing.

I also got a chance to meet company co-founder Christophe Watkins, who admitted that the idea for indiqu started in 1998 when he was at a trade show and saw a man hooked up to his GameBoy and talking on his cellular phone. "The idea just bubbled from there," says Christophe, and within a year he and two other partners were in business. Yet another example of San Diego's entrepreneurial spirit. It must be the weather!