barons of the
TechCapital magazine called
these business leaders the “Barons of the Beltway” because of their
prominence in the region’s tech community. In this transcript of
a Morino Institute Netpreneur Program event, held June 12, 1997,
they offer their insights into the new world of Internet
opportunities. The “Barons” are Jim Kimsey, founder and
Chairman Emeritus of America Online; Bill Melton, founder of
VeriFone and founder and CEO of CyberCash; Mario Morino, founder
of Legent Corporation, now chairman of the Morino Institute; and
Russ Ramsey, co-founder the investment house Friedman, Billings
and Ramsey & Co.
made at Netpreneur events and recorded here reflect solely the
views of the speakers and have not been reviewed or researched
for accuracy or truthfulness. These statements in no way
reflect the opinions or beliefs of the Morino Institute,
Netpreneur.org or any of their affiliates, agents, officers or
directors. The transcript is provided "as is" and
your use is at your own risk.
1997, Morino Institute. All rights reserved. Edited for length
table of contents
esther smith: introductions
jim kimsey: gee, that sounds exciting
bill melton: the 90 degree rule
mario morino: the right place at the right time
russ ramsey: the sun, the moon and the stars
the audience: q&a
mario morino: closing -where does your
MS. SMITH: Good evening. I'm Esther Smith, an
advisor for the Potomac KnowledgeWay Projects Netpreneur Program (http://www.netpreneur.org) and former publisher of
Washington Technology. Thank you to everyone here tonightmore than 750 of us.
The Netpreneur Program is the first major program of the Potomac KnowledgeWay, an
initiative founded to make our region the global center in creation, production and
delivery of online information products and services. The goal of the Program is to be
"network central" for our community of Internet entrepreneurs. Well, we are
having a little problem with scale.
- We expected 25 people to come to our first Coffee & DoughNets session. We ran out of
space twice before we capped it off at 120.
- Our spur-of-the-moment idea for a meeting between netpreneurs and venture capitalists
swamped the Grand Ballroom of the Tysons Sheraton Premiere. We finally had to cut off
attendance at over 400.
- We were still telling people this afternoon they couldn't come to this event tonight. We
had already outgrown two potential meeting sites before we finally landed here at the
You ladies and gentlemen are worth every effort. Incidentally, one of our challenges is
that we have underestimated the energy, enthusiasm, talent and guts you havenot to
mention how many of you there are! We are running to keep up with you.
I have always believed our region is special. Although it has not been known in the
past for an entrepreneurial culture, one is certainly alive and well today. We have
companies like AOL, CyberCash, MCI, Digex, PSINet and UUNETunknown names a few years
ago. They didn't have a lot of counterproductive baggage to carry into a new era of
commerce and continuity. So they led rather than followed. Our guests tonight have done it
all in this revolutionary new arena. The Barons of the Beltway are not just ahead of the
power curvethey defined it.
As Daniel Savarese wrote recently discussing Elizabeth Corcoran's article on Silicon
Valley Scramble in the June 8, 1997 Washington Post, "I think we'll see many more
startups in this area and the beginnings of a new Mecca for technology ideas as
entrepreneurs start succeeding and fostering the entrepreneurial cycle we see on the West
"There's no place I'd rather be than the Washington Metro area right now,"
Dan continued. "I get tired of the Silicon Valley comparisons because we're not going
to be another Silicon Valley. We're going to be something different, but just as
innovative. And we're just starting out. There's nothing better than being there at the
beginning. Silicon Valley is old hat now." "
Thanks, Dan, for saying that so well.
Tonight's program is a spin-off from Shannon Henry's fabulous cover story "The
Barons of the Beltway" in the premiere issue of TECHCapital magazine, a publication
of TechNews, Inc., a subsidiary of The Washington Post Company. Making tonight's event
possible are the sponsors of "An Evening with the Barons": America Online,
CyberCash, MCI Telecommunications Corp., Morino Institute, Pamet River Partners, Riggs
National Bank and TECHCapital. Please join us in thanking each of these companies.
The Barons are assembled here tonight: Jim Kimsey, founder of America Online; Bill
Melton, founder of CyberCash and the author of the great quote that "if you are not
on the Net you don't exist"; Mario Morino of the Morino Institute and the founder of
Legent Corp.; and Russ Ramsey, the founder of Friedman, Billings, Ramsey & Co.
Each will give a seven-minute presentation and then we'll move on to audience questions
and comments. The event is being videotaped and transcribed. Information from this evening
will be disseminated and press is in attendance. What you ask tonight might wind up on the
front page tomorrow. We want an open, informal session, an interactive dialogue among
netpreneurs and these industry leaders.
We'll begin our openings remarks, starting with Jim Kimsey.
Part 2: The Barons