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Beltway Bootup Tech Leaders Take the Wheel

April 27, 1998
By Mary Beth Regan, reganmb@washpost.com
WashTech Contributing Editor

Welcome to Beltway Bootup:

HIGH-TECH TITANS: The Post's annual rankings of the region's Top 200 companies, published today, highlights nine technology entrepreneurs who embody the changing pace and direction of Washington area's business scene, says The Post's David Ignatius. This new breed of risk-takers includes: Steve Case, at America Online, Katherine K. Clark, at Landmark Systems, Jeong H. Kim, at Yurie Systems and John W. Sidgmore, at UUNet. Question: Will these new high-tech leaders move beyond their companies to put their stamp on the area as decisively as their predecessors did?

IPO POWER: Technology firms also have made spectacular debuts on the stock markets. The Post's Jerry Knight observes that Washington's IPOs, many by tech firms, proved to be a boon for Washington investors. Consider: New issues were up 60 percent on Friday from their initial offering prices, compared to an average regional company up 15 percent. And 17 new companies joined The Post's Top 200, a handful of which have become "instant giants" due to business restructuring. Not surprisingly, tech companies made this list too. They include: Friedman, Billings, Ramsey; Software AG Systems; Startec Global Communications, and EIS International.

WORLD VIEW: Europe's regulatory agency, the European Commission, this week will send its concerns about the planned $37 billion WorldCom/MCI merger to company execs, the Wall Street Journal says. While the EC has the authority to block such large-scale mergers, it rarely does so. Instead, EC negotiators will seek concessions in closed-door meetings over the next two months. Whatever the outcome, WorldCom and MCI execs have reaped rewards from the planned deal, according to bonus details disclosed in proxy filings. WorldCom chief Bernie Ebbers received a $17 million bonus for his efforts to wrestle MCI away from two other suitors.

PRIVATE NETWORK: Watch for Qwest Communications International Inc. of Denver to provide more details today of a $430 million, 10-year contract to provide the feds with "a virtual private network" that gives Uncle Sam's telecommuters save access to their office computer networks. Qwest wasn't giving the Wall Street Journal any details about the government department or agency that awarded the contract.

HUNTING HEADS: So who's got the "in" on the revamped Cabinet-level technology post in Virginia? Federal Computer Week says Don Upson, vice president for strategic programs at Litton/PRC Inc. and former Hill staffer for procurement issues, has the edge. Virginia Gov. James Gilmore will announce his choice in May.

PUBLIC DEBUT: Ziff-Davis, the computer-magazine publisher, will be the largest name on a lineup of IPOs this week. And even though the Ziff-Davis name is well-known in computer circles, some analysts warn debt and projected losses may clip the wings of this stock offering.

DEVICE DASH: The FDA has taken a step toward approving a new heart laser for coronary disease, giving a head start to PLC Systems Inc., of Franklin, Mass., in the race to get such a product on the market. The Wall Street Journal says Eclipse Surgical Technologies Inc. and Cardiogenesis Corp., both of Sunnyvale, Calif., also are vying to win the competition. PLC's laser relieves pain for patients with untreatable coronary artery disease.

RIP: MSNBC's Bob Sullivan calls it the Web of the Living Dead – those sites that live on seemingly forever – but whose host companies have long since expired. Consider: The NEC Research Institute estimates there are 320 million web pages out there – an unknown number sponsored by long defunct companies. His point: Companies, clean up your trash. Our point: Don't worry. Bootup will be around for a while.

If you have questions, complaints, tips or opinions, you can also call Bootup the old-fashioned way at 703-741-3833.

Copyright © 1998 The Washington Post Company

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