When Dan Cohen, the new vice president of sales for the Washington Redskins, wanted to get in front of the new rich in Washington, he knew exactly where to go.
Cohen asked Roger Mody, chief executive of Signal Corp. in Fairfax and at 35 a member of the younger local tech elite, to host a lunch for Mody's friends and colleagues. The goal: Get them so excited about the Redskins that they'll buy some luxury seats and suites.
"This is the introduction to the [technology] community," says Cohen, who said Friday's lunch was the first event of its kind he has held. "They have the funds to be able to invest in the stadium."
About 100 local techies--including America Online Inc.'s president of investments, Lennert Leader, and Information Management Consultants Inc.'s chairman, Sudhakar Shenoy, gathered in the aptly named Tickets restaurant at the Fairfax Park Marriott for a buffet lunch.
"I went through my Rolodex," says Mody, who put up about $5,500 of his own money to host the event. Mody says it's worth it if he can help sell some club seats.
"I'm a lifelong fan," says Mody, who's from Annandale. "I grew up watching games at RFK."
Redskins owner Dan Snyder schmoozed the crowd and gave an enthusiastic pep talk. "I keep sending vanilla ice cream to the coaches as a joke, saying, 'Don't make it vanilla,' " he said.
Former Redskin Doc Walker called on members of the audience to start wearing burgundy and gold again, and for them to make it the toughest ticket to get in town.
Cohen made it clear exactly why this particular group was chosen. He explained that there were four luxury boxes left and plenty of club-level seats. He didn't mince words: "We'd really like to talk to you on the way out," he said.
The techies got Redskins hats and fliers explaining how they can woo potential clients and thank their employees by inviting them to hang out in the stadium's exclusive Humidor Lounge or Brew Pub. "It's a great perk," says Cohen.
A box runs for $225,000 for the season and club seats (those that are still available) sell for an average of $2,500 per seat per year, with a five-year minimum, says Mody.
On Monday, Cohen said he sold a couple of luxury boxes and a "significant number" of club seats. He'd collected about 50 or 60 cards from interested people on Friday, says Mody.
This was only the latest example of the D.C. tech community's growing fascination with sports. As tech money grows, so does its investment in teams and sports marketing, whether it's personal or for business. First there was PSINet Stadium in Baltimore, then AOL's Ted Leonsis bought the Capitals. AOL co-founder Jim Kimsey is on a team to bring baseball to Washington.
The latest buzz, though, is that a large local technology company is in the running to have its name on the stadium formerly known as Jack Kent Cooke. AOL won't comment.
The hottest local technology event of the year turns out to be . . . a wedding.
Landmark Systems' chief executive, Kathy Clark, and tech turnaround artist Bradley Rosenberg on Sunday will gather the tech community, plus other friends and relatives--numbering around 400--to watch them tie the knot.
Always the trailblazers, Clark and Rosenberg will be the first people to officially get married on a Kennedy Center stage.
"We're making history," says Clark.
The two will have cameo roles in a special performance of "Shear Madness" and hold the ceremony immediately after.
"We wanted to do something fun, nontraditional," says Clark.
An early idea of getting hitched at the ESPN Zone in Baltimore got quashed because the space can be rented only on weekdays.
After the wedding, Clark and Rosenberg plan to spend three weeks sailing from Tahiti to Fiji.
What to get the couple that seem to have everything? They're registered (online of course) at www.weddingwire.com for wine and sailing supplies.
There has been a steady stream of people leaving the public relations group of MCI WorldCom Inc. Now their boss, Frank Walter, who reports directly to company chief executive Bernard J. Ebbers, has announced his resignation.
Walter, 38, who is vice president of public relations at MCI, has gradually been telling staffers this week that he plans to depart after Labor Day.
The decision closely follows an MCI PR blunder. The company has been widely criticized for not being forthright with information during a 10-day period of off-and-on failures in a large data network that left thousands of business customers without Internet access and other services.
But Walter, who has been at MCI for nine years, says he has long been wanting to take a three-to-six-month sabbatical.
"I've planned for some time to take an extended break," says Walter. "Working in this industry is a 24-hour job."
He won't say how much money he has, but Walter will be leaving with an MCI stock nest egg. Every full-time employee at MCI gets options. "I'm fortunate to benefit from that," Walter says.
Who's got mail?
A federal judge recently threw out a case brought by America Online that complained AT&T Corp. was illegally using "You Have Mail," "buddy list" and "IM," which is shorthand for "instant messaging."
But AOL, which said it will appeal that ruling, is also going after some smaller fry it thinks are infringing on its names.
In July, AOL sent a cease and desist letter to first-time author Madelene Sabol, asking her to stop selling and promoting her book, "You've Got Male," which is about Internet dating, and to shut down her Web site and transfer the domain name www.youve-got-male.com to AOL.
"I'm so happy AT&T won," says Sabol, who lives in Denver. "I'm going to keep selling my book."
Andrew Weinstein, a spokesman for AOL, said he didn't want to comment specifically on Sabol's book. "We routinely take steps to prevent the unauthorized use of our trademarks so consumers will not be confused or misled," says Weinstein.
Send tips and tales of the digital capital's local people, deals and events to Shannon Henry at email@example.com.
CAPTION: Signal Corp. CEO Roger Mody helped pitch luxury Redskins tickets at a lunch for friends and colleagues because "I'm a lifelong fan."