Friday, September 28, 2001

The Cyber Scene in Denver ~ by Suzanne Lainson

On September 28, Red Herring came to town and threw a luncheon, "The Future of Venture Capitalism." It was at the Brown Palace and I got there just about the time everyone was sitting down to eat. There was a chair next to Andre Pettigrew, assistant superintendent of the Denver Public School System, so I grabbed it. After lunch we heard from a panel made up of three local VCs: Kyle Lefhoff, general partner of Boulder Ventures (, who talked about health care, Steve Halstedt, managing director of Centennial Ventures, who talked about telecom, and Rick Patch, a partner with Sequel Ventures (, who talked about IT.

That evening, SpireMedia ( had an open house. It was an ADCD (Art Directors Club of Denver) and AIGA (American Institute of Graphic Arts/Colorado Chapter) event so virtually all the attendees were members of the Denver design community rather than Internet and tech event regulars. Spire's offices are on several floors in the historical Daniels and Fisher Warehouse #2 in LoDo. As I would have expected from Spire, it had a nice laid-back atmosphere with a dog in residence. (The place reminded me quite a bit of Sports & Fitness Publishing, the Boulder magazine publishing company where I used to do market research. After a buyout, the principals went on to form Radar Communication, a qualitative research company and trends spotter.) Wandering around Spire, I saw Mike Gellman looking CEOish in his office. And Brett Madden and Brandon Shevin were out and about chatting with attendees. I met CFO Curt Johnson and I had a chance to talk at length to Terry Logan who was telling me about the usability research Spire does. I also saw Erich Stein (, who is doing some industrial design work along with his PR consulting. As an aside, I heard from Dave Hieb who is Spire's new VP of sales.

On September 29, the Boulder Community Network ( had its seventh anniversary party at Trios. I had a chance to talk at length with the keynote speaker, Lisa Napoli, currently with MSNBC and and formerly with the New York Times. This was her first flight out of New York since the World Trade Center disaster and she shared a story that John Cheever might have written for The New Yorker had he been alive today. On the plane from New York to Denver, sitting across the aisle from Lisa was a woman talking on a cell phone. She was reciting details of her will -- what to do with the pets, the name of the lawyer in Denver to handle her estate, the amount of her investments. Then she said goodbye just in case she died in route. If this wasn’t unnerving enough, Lisa realized the woman was leaving all of this information on voicemail. Presumably she hadn’t given much thought to preparing for death until she was sitting on a plane. And then her need to handle her affairs became so great that she was willing to recount it all to a machine. Just the thing to inspire confidence in airline travel. To read more about the BCN meeting, go to: .
On October 2, First Tuesday ( met at the Mile High Station. Approximately 700 people attended, which was an intentionally smaller turnout that last time. Director Tom Filippini said they wanted to reign in attendance a bit. As always, it was a great party. Among the VC community members I spotted were Catharine Merigold of Vista Ventures (, Sarah Gutterman of Boulder Ventures, Chris Wand of Softbank (, and Steve Swoboda of iBelay (

Music was a popular conversation theme. Pete Dignan, CEO of ProtoTest (, gave me a CD of Down to Gray (, his son's band. Phil Smith of RePlay Rich Media ( chatted about his business partner Chris, who is also plays drums for the band Running with Sally. Brian Smith, president of Sonant (, does some DJing. And singer/songwriter/rocker Wendy Woo ( was there in her role as music entrepreneur.

Among those I talked to were Matt Brown, principal and creative director of ProMotif (, Ronald Duce, VP, science and technology group, Kiewit Construction Company, Greg Houghtaling, business development manager for Fourthought (, Dan Lubar of dataDistributions (, Jon Fetzer, VP of operations and product development for (, and Mark Weakley and Linda Wackwitz of Holme, Roberts & Owen ( To read more about the First Tuesday event, go to