MyWeddingPlans, people looking, Epigraph plus.
January 14, 2000
The May Report
by Ron May
The May Report: 1/14/2000: MyWeddingPlans, people looking, Epigraph plus.
We are open to advertising of all kinds. Please address inquiries
about ads to email@example.com and please include your phone number.
If this works, I am through with sending through AOL. They are impossible.
Short answers to two teasers because of space.
Lifeserv got an additional round of funding in late December, but I don’t
know the amount. That is question #5.
The company David Hale is Chairman of is ChinaOnline.com. Lyric Hughes is
the CEO. They are planning to close on about $14MM. Question #4 in the teaser.
Table of Contents:
1. Various and assorted.
1a. A note from Julie Landry explaining the Red Herring coverage of divine.
1b. Ron Ezsak of Cognitor sends a note on office space he has available.
1c. Josh Schneider reports that his friend Jared Schultz has invested in
1d. FastWeb needs a freelance web developer.
1e. Marketing automation person needed to head division of e-business practice.
2. People looking for new opportunities in the New Year (Century,
Millennium, if you buy that it is not the faux Millennium).
2a. Mike Reese (formerly of Platinum, looking for financial position).
2b. Craig Dillon seeks CIO/CTO position.
2c. Preeti Shah seeks Product Manager or Marketer position.
2d. James Colello seeks senior managment position.
2e. David Craig seeks entry into the e-commerce world.
3. More events.
3a. AMC upcoming events, Harvey Tillis’ Weekly Reminder.
3b. TECpromote fundraiser on January 26th.
3c. PR Newswire has Dan Miller of the Sun-Times explain their plans for a
new technology section. In the interest of full disclosure, I have to say
that I am talking to the Sun-Times about writing a technology “goings on”
column. I appreciate the words of encouragement from Howard Wolinsky and
Terry Savage and their efforts internally to make this happen at the paper.
I feel that I am obligated to say this even though the deal is not final. I
will continue to say what I honestly think about all the media even if this
does happen. Ask Dan Miller what I told him in our first conversation.
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ask for John Helm.
MyWeddingPlans Shifts to Event Planning Focus in General.
I had a long talk with Samantha Borland today. She has brought on two
advisors who are heavyweights in the field. I have included their bio’s
below. The company chnaged its business modle and strategy somewhat a few
months ago. They have gone from a focus on weddings, which they still are
pursuing to a more general focus on planning events, like parties, special
birthdays, anniversarys, Bar Mitzvahs, christenings, funerals, divorces.
She has registered a lot of names, (seventy so far, and she is on call at
any time for more suggestions), that go with just about any event, along
the lines of MyFuneralPlans.com, MyDivorcePlans.com, MyPartyPlans.com.
There is a major internet firm that provides content for events with
information on things like what to do for a 30th birthday party that Sam is
forging a strategic alliance with, but Sam would not say who it is because
the deal is not inked yet.
She has an etiquette expert from Scotland coming on board next month and is
very excited about that. Sam is really trying to bring value to the customer.
I told her she should have a MyCheatingPlans.com in between the weddings
and the divorces. She did not think that was funny. I also asked her if her
husband Ned, a very nice guy, knows about the MyDivorcePlans.com. Sam is
fun to tease. She is so sincere and proper, but when you get into a serious
discussion, she can hold her own. She does say some funny things and I
tease her about it. Anyway, in the wedding space, Sam’s firm is the only
one that focuses on the event day planning. Other sites like Della.com
(they too have broadened their focus by going from Della&James.com to just
Della.com and focusing on gifts generally, not just for weddings) and
TheKnot.com have been gift registry sites.
Consequently, Sam needs to parnter with these firms to generate customers
for her site and because she needs to fill in that gap in what her site
offers. Now comes the hard part. Is she going to let them use her tools or
is she going to continue to try to brand MyWeddingPlans.com? What are the
implications of each strategy for building value in MWP.com? Sam seemed to
be less concerned with the branding than with a deal that makes sense.
Also, she may not want to do an exclusive deal with just one partner, but
that may be the way it plays out. She and Eve Geroulis have met with
TheKnot.com in New York, and next Wednesday afternoon they have a big
meeting with the founders and the CEO of Della.com. Sam prefers the
Della.com partnership from a strategic viewpoint because the people at
Della.com are broadening their game plan to include other events, whereas
TheKnot.com is weddings only. The wedding market is not as big as events
generally. There are 2.4 million weddings a year and 50% of the people
getting married are on line and about 20% to 30% use planning. That means
that Sam may have split that 400K to 600K market with established firms and
she does not see the possibility of having 100,000 customers as enough to
shoot for. TheKnot.com is public; Della.com is not public yet. Meetings are
more money than weddings. The average meeting is $182K, the average wedding
is $17K. Also, Sam did spend time in wedding related businesses before her
time as an event planner.
One trivia fact that came out: I heard that Larry Yamron of iexplore has a
girlfriend who started a concierge website. Sam knows her. I think her name
is Naller and she is out of Washington, D.C. and the site is conciergeclub.com.
So, you can see there are some exciting times ahead at MyWeddingPlans.com
and MyEventPlans.com. I questioned Sam on how, when, and why the strategy
changed. I also asked her why she chose weddings in the first place
considering that she came out of a meeting planning backgrround. It was an
evolutionary change, I gathered, but there was a definite decision to
broaden the focus. When Sam originally registered domain names, they were
MyWeddingPlan(s), MyEventPlan(s) and MyPartyPlan(s). She had six. Now she
has 70. When the code was being developed for MWP, they were using the word
“weddings” and Sam says she “ordered them to change it.” That is when I
tease her. “You ordered them,” I chuckled. “What did you do, take a wand
and point it at them while vocalizing your commands?” Sam laughed. She has
that sweet, pearl necklace and sweater personality on the outside, but
underneath she can be tough. And best of all, she can laugh at herself.
Sam wrote this to me yesterday: “Much more to come. We have a lot of
contracts in the works and press releases about the exciting dotcom
relationships and also under www.thepolis.com our microsite IT subsidary
She can be reached at (773) 342-9442 or SBorland@myweddingplans.com
One interesting thing Sam mentioned was that her site gives real advice on
how to handle all the etiquette of weddings. For example, how do you handle
the choice of brides’s maids and what is the proper way to decline an
invitation to be one, etc. This kind of information is not the business
that Della.com is in and Sam says, even if the comment is a bit
self-serving, that Della.com has made a point of this in their recent
marketing. They are there for gifts only. What this tells me is that the
other wedding sites need Sam to differentiate themselves from their
I know, I know. I did ask Sam whether she has thought about what she would
do if Della.com offered to buy MWP.com or if TheKnot.com offered it. She
said that is not on the table now and that the contracts she is negotiating
are for strategic alliances. She also added that she is having too much fun.
Here are the brief bio’s on the two advisors. Dwayne is the guy for getting
money, and Tim is the guy who put a lot of E-commerce alliances together at
Lycos. He is going to help with the deals that MWP strikes.
Dwayne was one of the top people at Microsoft about ten years ago.
Dwayne M. Walker has over 18 years of business and technology
experience. Mr. Walker has been President and Chief Executive Officer of
ShopNow.com Inc. since March 1996 and prior to that served as Chairman of
the Board. During 1995 and 1996, Mr. Walker was also Chairman of US
Connect which was acquired by IKON Office Systems. Mr. Walker is also an
investor and advisor to NETDelivery, Inc. and other technology and services
Tim Carey has joined our MEP board of directors:
Most recently, Timothy was Director of E-Commerce for the Waltham,
Massachusetts Internet Portal, Lycos. While at Lycos, Timothy negotiated
E-Commerce deals across all commerce categories. He was part of the team the
secured the largest deal in the company’s history, $130 million dollar
wingspanbank.com. Prior to Lycos, Timothy was the Senior Vice President of
Marketing and Business Development for the leading website for college
students, www.jobdirect.com. While at JobDirect.com, Timothy secured
partnerships with Yahoo!, Visa, Sun and Oracle. In addition, JobDirect.com
was also awarded INC. Magazines Entrepreneurship Award for Marketing in
1998. Timothy also held senior marketing and business development positions
at Dennis Publishing and leading college marketing agencies, US Concepts and
US Marketing and Promotions. Timothy graduated with a Bachelor of Arts and
Sciences from the University of Delaware.
1a. Date: Wed, 12 Jan 2000 10:58:21 -0800
From: Julie Landry
Subject: Flip, Red Herring cover
re: the question you pose in your latest report.
“The intriguing thing is how Upside Magazine did a similar article and did
not even mention divine. Yet Flip ends up on the cover of Red Herring.
Wouldn’t you like to know why?”
Answer: I can’t speak for the magazine, but Redherring.com has been
covering Divine since August when reporter Larry Aragon wrote about the
impressive board of directors that Flip snagged, and followed it up the
next week with a bigger story about Divine’s funding. Flip was also
profiled by Paul Kapustka in November for his “big fish” column, and a
group of us took a look at Divine and Idealab’s planned IPOs in December.
Check Redherring.com later this week for yet another look at Divine and
I read the Upside article last night, and they did mention Divine *very*
Reporter, Red Herring Online
1b. A note about office space from Ron Eszak of Cognitor.
Just thought in this tight office space market I would let your readers know
about a great opportunity. Cognitor has moved to 156 North Jefferson
(between Randolph and Lake streets) a terrific loft building. The owner is
very pleasant and easy to work with. He will have about 12,500 square feet
that can be divided available very soon. He desires high tech tenants and
asked if we could spread the word around. Since no one spreads the word
around to the Chicago technology community as well as you?
1c. From: “Josh E. Schneider”
Date: Thu, 13 Jan 2000 23:54:56 -0600
Thought this may be of interest. Jared lives in Colorado, but has been a
great supporter of the Chicago area Internet scene over the last few years.
He was one of the first Internet-centric venture investors in the area,
having invested in AIS back in 1994.
Epigraph Entertainment Receives Seed Investment from Jared Schutz
BlueMountain.com Mogul Joins Former Partner in Online Community-Building
CHICAGO — Jan 14, 2000 — Online media and development firm Epigraph
Entertainment, Inc. announced today that it received a seed investment from
JPS International, the investment vehicle of Internet mogul Jared Schutz.
After selling online greeting card and gift site BlueMountain.com to
Excite@Home for in excess of $800 Million, Schutz is applying his talent
and capital to fuel the development of Epigraph’s successful online
community-building software, and support the rapid growth of the company’s
prime web communities, including Guitar.com and Flight.com.
Under the terms of the deal, Mr. Schutz has agreed to join Epigraph’s board
of directors, which is headed by former business partner Josh Schneider.
The two share a history dating back to 1994, when Schutz , Schneider and
Michael Hakimi founded AIS.net. The team sold the company to Exodus
Communications (NASDAQ: EXDS) in 1999, after seeing it through substantial
growth and success. “Josh was the visionary behind AIS, and I look forward
to working with him to manifest his new vision for Epigraph.”
“In the last six months we’ve proven the feasibility and effectiveness of
our software, enabling the rapid viral growth of our online communities”,
said Schneider, Epigraph’s CEO. “Utilizing our software, Guitar.com has
achieved phenomenal growth, with even more registered musicians than
MP3.com. We believe that significant opportunities exist to further develop
our own sites, and to utilize our software and services to help other firms
meet their online community goals. I’m looking forward to working closely
with Jared to capitalize on these initiatives.”
About Epigraph Entertainment
Chicago Based Epigraph Entertainment, Inc. develops online software
products that allow the creation and management of business-to-business and
business-to-consumer communities. Epigraph software has been applied to
create Guitar.com and Flight.com, two successful online communities. The
company is privately held and currently owns several community sites,
including Guitar.com and Flight.com, as well as minority stakes in
Cigar.com, Bachelor.com and a number of other sites in development.
Guitar.com, located on the Internet at guitar.com, is the loudest,
largest and most active community of musicians on the Internet. Launched in
August of 1999, the web site reaches nearly 600,000 musicians per month,
providing a powerful medium for musicians to interact, learn and reach
Flight.com, located on the internet at flight.com, is an aviation
and air travel web site designed for the rapidly growing online audience of
flight enthusiasts. Launched last week, the site offers online flight
booking, real-time flight tracking and the Internet’s first web browser
based flight simulator.
CONTACT: Epigraph Entertainment, Sanjay Malkani, 312/583-9940 (Phone),
1d. From: “Laureen Grieve”
Subject: Know Anybody Looking?
Date: Thu, 13 Jan 2000 13:59:10 -0600
I’m with FastWeb, a company I know you’re familiar with. You spoke with
Chris Hulst, our Traffic Director, just a few months ago.
We’re looking for a freelance web developer….not a firm…but someone who
could help us out with the potential of staying on, if they so choose. Do
you know of anyone who is looking? Any leads you could give would be great!
Vice President – Content and Community
1e. From: “Bob Ahrens”
Subject: Seeking Marketing Automation Executive
Date: Tue, 28 Dec 1999 13:30:44 -0600
I have been following your list for about six months now, and greatly
appreciate your reporting on eBusiness startups in Chicago.
I am currently seeking an executive level “marketing automation” individual
to lead a division of an eBusiness strategy practice. There is an
opportunity for equity share in several eBusiness startups, as well as
salary/shares for the marketing automation division itself.
Any help in locating this individual would be greatly appreciated.
Keep up the great work!
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2. People looking.
2a. From: “Reese, Michael”
Subject: Looking for Opportunity
Date: Thu, 23 Dec 1999 08:44:41 -0600
I am looking for a senior finance / corporate development role with a
technology company in Chicago. Twelve years experience, MBA from U of C.
Previously with PLATINUM technology as a Director of Finance. Have been a
Sr. Manager with Corporate Development group at Gateway in South Dakota
for past 2 1/2 years, but am leaving as staff functions are moved to new
headquarters in San Diego. Am available as of January. Can be contacted
through personal e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also, please put me on your subscription list using email@example.com.
I called Mike Cullinane, the CFO of divine and formerly the CFO of
Platinum, to check a reference on Mike Reese and he speaks highly of him.
In fact, they are interviewing him. You can check his reference with Mike
Cullinane at 630-799-7500.
2b. From: Craig Dillon
Date: Tue, 4 Jan 2000 13:10:39 -0600
I am in search of CIO, CTO, or similar position in a company that needs to
develop B2B e-commerce capability.
I have developed and trademarked the Flexible Enterprise ™ concept, which
was published in the October 1999 APICS magazine. My concept addresses
Supply Chain Management, Customer Relationship Management, Shop Floor
Integration, ERPs, Business Intelligence, e-commerce, and collaborative
commerce. I also address the issue of managing IT in an increasingly
dynamic environment, that is also becoming directly exposed to clients and
CIO magazine will be printing an opinion column, authored by me, on
February 15th, titled “CIO’s – Under The Gun”, where I discuss the problem
of IT departments not being as flexible as their companies need. That is,
IT has too often become a drag on corporate strategy.
I am on the board of the APICS Chicago Chapter, and am a member of the
Counsel for Logistics Management. I am a graduate of Kellogg GSM at
I have over twenty yeas experience in IT, starting my career at Arthur
Andersen & Co. I have managed IT in manufacturing, banking, insurance, and
securities trading industries. I have developed competitive intelligence
systems as well as ERP/MRP systems. I have developed webpages.
I am a believer in the coming of Object Oriented Technology in ERPs and
Enterprise Application Integration. I believe that ERPs will be changing
greatly in the next few years, and that the traditional ERP model will be
I would like to move into a company where I could help make their IT an
enabler of corporate strategy, and thus become a source of competitive
Any company so interested please contact me.
We’ve run into each other a few times – I have a cousin who is a lawyer in
Chicago, you know him as well…I’ve been religiously hitting your website
every night to learn about the opportunities available in Chicago start-ups
(thank god for your services, otherwise my search would be much harder). I’m
applying to a few companies directly, but if there is any way you can include
a small blurb on me in an upcoming report, I would appreciate the additional
exposure. I’m also attaching my resume.
I have marketing and some technical experience and would fit the role of a
Product Manager or Marketer. I dabbled in a part-time importing business a
few years ago, selling 10,000 products in 6 months to national retailers such
as Nordstrom, Paul Harris, and Fashion Bug. That’s when I received my first
exposure to the Internet, having to create a website to showcase my samples.
I became interested in the Internet industry, and founded IndoPakPages.com, a
website which was eventually acquired by a Silicon Valley company. I became
very familiar with Internet technologies, having to evaluate web hosts, web
designers, and database and programming softwares. I even programmed in
Visual Basic when I couldn’t afford anyone to fix bugs. I also wore the
usual entrepreneurial hats – writing a business plan, getting some angel
funding, meeting with potential partners and Board of Advisor candidates, and
managing a team of 15 consultants and writers. At my current position with
the Silicon Valley company that acquired me, I’ve helped raise $3 million in
VC funding, recruit, create 120 pages of schematics for the website, research
alliances, and work with the technology team. I had considered moving to
Silicon Valley if the opportunity here remained promising, but due to
professional and personal reasons (my husband is still working there, we have
a condo there, I’ve lived there for 27 years), I would like to come back to
Chicago. I will be in the area from December 25th to January 1st, and can be
reached at (773) 929-7199 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks for your help Ron, and feel free to edit my “small blurb” if
necessary. If you can’t get it into the report, I understand – your site has
already been tremendously helpful, and I can always use any leads you may
send my way.
Keep up your health, and have a great Holiday season!
2d. From: “James Colello”
Subject: In the Market
Date: Sat, 8 Jan 2000 09:10:42 -0600
An associate and friend, Ted Markley, has recommended that I alert you to
the fact that I am currently seeking a new job opportunity.
I have enjoyed reading the May Report and feel that you may hear of
something that can utilize my background and experience.
To put it in a nut shell, I have over 25 years in the field of Human
Resources and General Operations, the last 13 years in the high tech and
software industries. Much of what I have enjoyed is helping companies
though extreme growth, evolution, merging of cultures due to acquisitions
or other organizational changes. Typically, I have done this at a senior
management level and have acted as consultant to the President, CEO or
Senior Partner level.
I have over six years with System Software Associates ( from it’s early
years through it’s hay day), three with Konami (when it attempted to turn
things around and be a player in the industry again) and with Viacom ( when
it was in the final days of game development).
I appreciate any help you can offer and will continue to be a loyal follower.
2e. Subj: For newsletter
Date: 1/4/2000 4:42:21 PM Central Standard Time
January 4, 2000
To: Ron May
As a participant and a keen observer of our business environment, I am
acutely aware of how important technology is today. I’m seeking to partner
with a potential world-class technology organization in a leadership role
utilizing my extensive experience in risk management and creative
I have (a) more than twenty-five years of experience as a keen observer of
the marketplace for financial assets, (b) a great ability to identify and
exploit opportunities to produce financial rewards, (c)
business-to-business and business-building skills, (d) experience in
business management with sales and marketing organizations, and (e)
problem-solving abilities. I have a strong disciplinary background in
problem-solving, demonstrated in a fast-paced business environment where
instinctive decisions must be made. I savor involvement in idea-generation
and the creative process. I have been recognized as exhibiting effective
senior management and leadership abilities with CEOs and CFOs as well as
all in the marketplace. These shills all apply to the identification of
opportuity, customer service, building business, and solving problems.
I have been an early adopter of new technology, and I understand what, in
the right circumstances, significant benefits it can bring to an
organization. I am looking to put my skills to work for a new technology
organization and to be a principle architect in the growth of that business.
I am interested in hearing from any technology or e-commerce business
principals that can use my abilities to solve problems and exploit and grow
profitable opportunities. I can be reached at 847.394.4754. Thank you.
Very truly yours,
3a. Subj: AMC Weekly Update
Date: 1/14/2000 9:33:36 AM Central Standard Time
From: email@example.com (harvey)
AMC’s Chicago-Area Director-Lingo Users Group
Monday, January 17, 2000
Ravi Singh of Ravware (www.ravware.com) takes us deep into the unexplored
crevices of Director to uncover “Undocumented Director Functions”
Also Michael Schaffner will show how and why you should be taking
advantage of Flash technologies within your Director projects.
We’ve got piping hot news, warm cozy Q & A’s, and extremely cool
Gamma Technical Institute
314 W. Superior, 3rd floor, Chicago, IL.
Doors open at 6:00 p.m. Meeting starts at 6:30 p.m.
Admission is FREE for AMC members, $10 for non-members, $5 students with
A light buffet will be provided
More info? Visit www.amcomm.org/lingosig
“Building Businesses on the Web”
Friday, Jan. 21, 2000
Chicago-Kent College of Law
565 W. Adams St.
The program features an impressive roster of speakers: Paul Cook of the
Munder NetNet Fund (the largest Internet mutual fund), Andrew Parker, CEO
Mercantec, a leading provider of open e-commerce software; Bill Steinmetz,
head of ABN-AMRO Investment Banking; Dan Foreman, head of ABN-AMRO
Equity; Neil Stern, partner in McMillan|Doolittle, the strategic retail
and e-commerce consulting firm; Charline Poirer, Director of usability/
customer focus at Scient plus prominent members of the Kent Law School
and IIT Design faculty.
This information-packed program will run from 8:30-4:00PM and includes
lunch and a networking reception. RSVP to Richard Warner at
312/906-5280 or register online at www.kentlaw.edu/netbiz for the
one day conference. It will be an excellent program designed to provide
vital business, design and legal information which every Web entrepreneur
needs to know.
Harvey S. Tillis
Association for Multimedia Communications, Inc.
P.O. Box 10645
Chicago, Illinois 60610
TECpromote INAUGURAL FUNDRAISER GENERATES BUZZ
IN HIGH TECH COMMUNITY
New PAC draws support from Illinois heavyweights
TECpromote, a newly formed Illinois Political Action Committee, has been
generating a buzz that proves that Illinois “gets it,” with support from
local heavyweights AT&T Broadband and Internet Services and divine
interVentures stepping up to the plate as sponsors for TECpromote’s January
26 inaugural fundraiser. TECpromote represents an important step in
Illinois’ development as a high tech hub, marking a formal bridge between
the high tech community and the political arena. “We are excited about
working with TECpromote to cultivate an environment to further Illinois as
a technological leader. This is an important step in the evolution of
Illinois’ new economy,” says John Liskey, director of governmental affairs
for AT&T Broadband and Internet Services.
TECpromote was recently formed to promote technology, entreprenuership
capital formation in Illinois. It will support the election of state and
Federal candidates, on a bi-partisan basis, who understand topics important
to Illinois’ New Economy. Founder Mark Glennon, of Chicago law firm Holleb
& Coff, delineated fundamental TECpromote issues: “Developing Illinois IT
workforce, especially higher education in science, funding for federal R&D
in Illinois and limiting abusive securities litigation. Our local
government has been supportive of the New Economy, and we need to keep it
The TECpromote inaugural fundraiser is scheduled is scheduled for
Wednesday, January 26, from 5:30 PM – 7:30 PM at the Museum of Contemporary
Art, 220 East Chicago Avenue, Chicago, Illinois. Admission is $1,000 per
# # #
For further information or to schedule an interview with Mark Glennon,
please call Steve Lundin (312) 658-3315.
3c. PR Newswire Media Coffee January 20, 2000
New Year — New Focus for the Business Section of the Chicago Sun-Times
Join us for our monthly PR Newswire Media Coffee featuring the newly
appointed business editor of the Chicago Sun-Times, Dan Miller.
WHEN: Thursday, January 20, 2000
8:00 – 8:30 a.m. Registration and Breakfast
8:30 – 9:30 a.m. Media Presentation
WHERE: The Private Dining Rooms of Spiaggia
One Magnificent Mile
980 North Michigan Avenue
Dan will outline his vision for the Business Section of the Chicago
Sun-Times. He will also explain the changes in focus and staff and will
suggest story angles. Dan will also be available for questions.