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Billionaire Bubble: Ten players in the local tech scene look back, a decade later, at the frenzied days of the Internet boom and its fateful bust

Askew: There was an initial overreaction that the Internet was not as important as people thought it was going to be. Those of us in the business knew that the Internet was not dead, that yes, people will shop online. And, lo and behold, that's where we are now.

Walsh: In the '90s, it took a lot of time and a lot of money and a lot of technology to make something cool happen on the Internet. Now, it takes very little money, very little time and very little technology.

Jagemann: I'm happy that we sold and the investors didn't lose and those employees that stayed are okay, but the employees who have not continued with the company did not get a payoff. ... That keeps me awake at night. ... I still have the same amount of energy and innovative ideas, but I think I've mellowed. I was cocky. Now, I'm confident.

Bansal: People didn't think of D.C. as a technology hub until the mid-'90s, and then it certainly became recognized as one of the top three in the country. My gut-level observation is that many of the people that came never left.

Case: I did enjoy the AOL journey. The first 10 years really were about the pioneering building phase, and even though the second 10 years was where the fame and fortune came, I kind of enjoyed the first 10 years more.

Askew: There's a Garth Brooks song called "The Dance," and there's a line that says, "I could have missed the pain, but I'd have had to miss the dance." And I wouldn't have missed that dance.


The Players


Then: Co-founder of, a clearinghouse for market research reports that raised $11 million in funding and later was sold for an undisclosed amount. The company's technology is still in use today.

Now: Chief executive of Gold Lasso, a marketing software company that he co-founded in 2006 by buying $5 in used computer parts at auction and flipping them on eBay for $8,000.


Then: Chief executive of, an online business community for women, which she founded out of her McLean home in 1994. In late 1999, the company was valued at $25 million by a potential buyer but would go unsold and be shuttered in August 2000.

Now: Digital media consultant, mostly for early stage technology companies.


Then: Co-founder, with Michael Saylor and Thomas Spahr, of MicroStrategy, a business intelligence technology provider whose stock rose to $333 per share but during the bust (and amid an accounting scandal) fell to just over $1. MicroStrategy eventually stabilized and even grew. It recently reported quarterly earnings of $100 million for the first time in its history.

Now: Vice chairman of the board, executive vice president and chief operating officer of MicroStrategy.


Then: Co-founder of AOL, which had grown to $163 billion in value by the time it announced its merger with Time Warner on Jan. 10, 2000. Case resigned as chairman in 2003. In late 2009, Time Warner spun off AOL, which announced plans to restructure and laid off 1,000 employees.

Now: Chairman and chief executive of Revolution, a family of emerging companies that Case founded in 2005.


Then: Co-founder of Blackboard, a software provider for educational institutions. Blackboard followed a traditional business model of charging customers to use its software and waited until 2004 to go public. When the bubble burst, Blackboard "ended up doing around $40 million in revenue and just about breaking even," Chasen says.

Now: President and chief executive, Blackboard, which has offices in 10 cities worldwide.


Then: Founded Proxicom, which developed e-commerce solutions, in 1991 with $40,000 he'd saved for a down payment on a house. The company went public in 1999 and saw its value top $6 billion. Proxicom was bought by Dimension Data in 2001 for $427 million.

Now: Co-owns the Washington Capitals, Washington Wizards and Washington Mystics, and is chairman of ObjectVideo, which develops security camera software.


Then: Washington Post columnist covering the local tech industry and author of "The Dinner Club," a book about the Washington area tech boom.

Now: Co-founded the online site Cooking with Friends.


Then: Started as an administrative assistant at UUNet and at age 28 made $18 million in the company's 1995 IPO. In 1998, she founded and later eCommerce Industries, for which she raised $92 million in funding. In 2007, the company sold for $95 million.

Now: Is founding the start-up Someone With, an Internet and print catalogue for cancer patients and survivors.


Then: Co-founded software company Legent and later the nonprofit Morino Institute. In the late '90s, he mentored entrepreneurs through Netpreneur, a tech networking organization. In 2000, Morino founded investment group Venture Philanthropy Partners.

Now: Chairman, Venture Philanthropy Partners.


Then: The former AOL executive became chief executive of VerticalNet, a flagship B2B company. It was valued at $12.5 billion at its peak but sold for $15 million in 2007. Walsh, along with other executives, was named in investor lawsuits that were later dismissed.

Now: Venture capitalist, political commentator and chief executive of start-up GeniusRocket, an online marketplace for advertising and marketing services.

Christina Breda Antoniades writes regularly for the Magazine. She can be reached at

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