Building His Own Start-Up Ecosystem

By Zachary A. Goldfarb
Monday, April 7, 2008

Staff writer Zachary A. Goldfarb's "Tech Post," which looks at people and ideas driving the local technology industry, runs Friday on the WashBiz blog.

Eric Litman is a longtime Washington area technology guy who calls himself an "Internet entrepreneur and evangelist."

Litman was one of four founders of a well-known local Internet development company in the 1990s called Proxicom. Using proceeds from the sale of that company and other ventures, he is now running a technology investment firm out of Rockville called WashingtonVC.

If you listen to him explain his vision for the future of technology, it sounds quite sweeping:

"There's the perception that the Internet is done in terms of innovation. . . . We're still at the very beginning in terms of human-computer interaction models in terms of opportunities. . . . People today sit in front of a computer typing on an absolutely bizarre keyboard layout that was traditionally designed to prevent people from typing too quickly, so they wouldn't jam the typewriter. We use a device that causes repetitive stress syndrome called the mouse."

He continues, "It's going to take 10, 15, 20 years to say who's going to win. We know it's going to look nothing like a QWERTY keyboard, a mouse at our side and an Internet Explorer version 30."

So WashingtonVC is investing in disruptive technologies that will change the future of technology, right?

Not exactly.

WashingtonVC, a little more than a year old, is investing in many basic technology companies -- many of them seemingly straight out of the late 1990s. To some degree they don't even touch on the current Web craze for social media and Web applications.

As one of his top investments, Litman touts DialAGeek, a remote technical support solution that he says can help consumers and small- and medium-size businesses get computer support at prices far below competitors, based in Rockville.

Other examples of companies in WashingtonVC's portfolio include a Utah company called SEO.com, for getting your company high on the list of Google results; BrowserMedia, a Web development and Web design agency in Bethesda; another Bethesda firm called HappyBirthday.com, a site for celebrating birthdays; and Phone.com, a Boston-based virtual phone service.


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