Internet Chamber of Commerce.
On March 28, I headed down to the Denver Design Center for the ICC meeting. It was a sellout, as usual; 700 people signed up. At each tech gathering I attend, I try to gauge the mood: do we have recession fever yet? This was a somewhat less energized crowd than the ICC event I attended in January, and people were more dressed up (indicating either a trend toward more formality or more job hunting). But the atmosphere was by no means somber. One reason, I think, is that Denver has not been a live-by-the-Internet, die-by-the-Internet town. The skiing has been great, Boeing is interested in moving to the area, and the real estate market is holding up. Overall the state is going strong.
I saw a fair amount of familiar faces, including SpireMedia's CEO Mike Gellman and Brandon Shevin. They've given their website a new look and are now emphasizing not just online services, but offline design and creative as well. Erich Stein, president of Erich Stein Communications, was there. So were Larry and Pat Nelson, hosts of the World Wide Web Radio Show (http://www.w3w3.com). They told me that they are now broadcasting from Boulder, rather than Denver, and at a more reasonable hour. They were originally on at 8 AM on Saturday mornings, when many of us do not adequately function. Brad Spirrison, managing editor of eMileHigh (http://www.emilehigh.com), was showing around business partner Rick Stratton, who was in from Chicago to check out the publication's planned expansion and to squeeze in some skiing at A-Basin and Vail.
I grabbed some food and joined Scott Zimmerman, a manager at Accenture; Karen Zimmerman of MarketQuest International; and Charlie Oriez, a consultant with Ciber. Since everyone had ties to consulting companies, we talked about where consulting in Colorado is headed. Can't say we came up any projections, though.
I caught up with Natalie Pyle, a technical recruiter at the Hall Kinion table. She told me about a project, eProfessionals, started by a co-worker. The site helps entrepreneurs find the necessary support services. I also had a chance to talk to Bob Howey, principal with Employer Services Group, and Jim Kloberdanz, VP of sales and marketing with Absolute Performance .
On April 3, I attended First Tuesday. This time the event took place in a new location - Bash, near Coors Field in LoDo. Welcome to 1968. Bash is a dance club fully equipped with light shows and a catwalk. (Luckily we saw no go-go dancers and were spared any ear-piercing, psychedelic rock music. But there was still plenty of atmosphere to resurrect Jim Morrison and Janice Joplin.) It was dark inside, in contrast to the still-light sky outside. That made it a challenge to read people's name tags. At least the green tag holders glowed under the black lights, making the entrepreneurs easy to spot. (Red, however, did not glow, so it was particularly difficult to zero in on the money people.) Given today's investment environment, I honestly don't believe most attendees were expecting to do any deals that night. But I hope the First Tuesday events remain a regular fixture on the Denver scene. After all, they're great fun!
One of the first people I ran into was Alex Teitz, editor-in-chief of FEMMUSIC. A few days earlier, I heard Boulder songwriter/singer/musician/record producer Wendy Woo (http://www.WendyWoo.com) at a local coffeehouse and was totally blown away by her. I was telling Alex all about it. If you like folk/blues and have a chance to see her perform, do it.
I saw Dilpreet Jammu, senior manager of business and service integration for Nortel Networks. He has recently visited San Francisco, Atlanta and Seattle to explore companies for various deals and strategic alliances. I asked him about how Nortel is faring, given the recent downturn in the market. He said that his area, business development, continues to be strong.
I sat down with Don Lubar, a partner with dataDistributions Corporation, to eat all the great Chinese food provided for us. Later I ran into Safa Alai, COO of Consumer Advantage News Network, who told me that the site is now live and webcasting. Among the others I met up with were Doug Smooke, senior program marketing manager at Avaya (http://www.avaya.com); Charlie Bruce of law firm Holme Roberts & Owen; and Dick Pankoski, president/CEO of COSA Technologies.
Finally, I spoke with Steve Swoboda, CFO of Ereo, the image search-engine company. They've done a soft launch, which you all should check out. We talked about snowboarding, Denver real estate, and what VCs plan to do with their money. Then John Czingula, marketing director for Duke Solar, came over to say hello. Steve and John have experience living and working in Hungary, so they compared notes. Then John and I talked about alternative energy technology, an area which has piqued my interest.
Sometime around 9 p.m. I realized that I was among just a handful of people left in the place. So, I headed back to Boulder.
The Conference on World Affairs
Next week (April 9-13) I won't be doing this column because I will be heavily involved with the University of Colorado's Conference on World Affairs, which has been going on for 53 years. Courtney Pulitzer will be one of over 100 participants to speak. Others include film critic Roger Ebert, political columnist Molly Ivins, BEA chairman/CEO Bill Coleman, Liberty Media Founder/Former CEO Peter Barton, Oscar and Grammy-winning musicians/producers Dave and Don Grusin, "Earth Girls Are Easy" screenwriter Terry McNally, Mother Jones Publisher Jay Harris, and sixties radical Bernadine Dohrn.
Panels on technology and the Internet will include: The Internet Sucks, Palm Pilot Society: Information as Umbilical Cord, Techno-Morality, Big Brother: Privacy and Consumerism, and Techie Takeover: When Geeks Inherit the Earth. The conference will also explore such topics as: Hairy Palms Make You Go Blind, If You're Menstruating, You're Not Thin Enough, The Cult of Oprah, and more serious panels on politics, globalization and disabilities. All panels are free and open to the public. The only downside is that parking is quite limited on campus. You might want to park your car at Crossroads Mall and take the local bus. But please join this continuing social/educational experiment.