Sarnoff Downsizes

Net Searchers Closes

New in Town

Name Changes


Corrections or additions?

This article by Barbara Fox was prepared for the May 22, 2002 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.

Life in the Fast Lane

Princeton’s sublease market is the talk of the state.

More prestigious Merrill Lynch space is on the block. After just two

years Merrill Lynch’s signature bull will no longer belong on the

front building at 7-9 Roszel Road. Sublease tenants are being sought

for 111,768 square feet through December, 2009. Raymond Sohmer of

Insignia/ESG’s Central New Jersey office in East Brunswick is the

exclusive agent (

Merrill Lynch moved into new SJP Property buildings — 7 and 9

Roszel Road — two years ago. Up for lease is the one in front,

the three-story building at 9 Roszel. Merrill Lynch’s trust group

currently occupies the first floor, but the second floor is vacant,

as is most of the third floor. Meanwhile the five-story building remains

fully occupied — four floors by Merrill Lynch and the top floor

divided between Pharmacia and Korn Ferry.

Sohmer says he is seeing a "good amount of traffic" and predicts

the very competitive sublease market will be gone by the end of this

year. "It’s really the very finest office space in the Princeton

market. Typically the tenant has to pay for furniture and the phone

system but these tenants will be able to enjoy a plug and play opportunity."

The upgrades include high end finishes, teleconferencing capabilities,

interior loading facilities, and CAT 6 voice and data throughout.

The leasable space can be subdivided so that the smallest tenant would

take 7,500 square feet, or a quarter of a floor. Tenants will be able

to use Merrill Lynch’s cafeteria in the five-story building at 7 Roszel.

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Sarnoff Downsizes

When 50 more Sarnoff workers got pink slips last week,

that brought the headcount to 575 people, a 25 percent reduction from

800 people last fall.

Sarnoff’s cash cow has always been contract research, which can average

$120 million a year. But its commercial technology clients are having

financial problems too. To get through this difficult period, says

spokesperson Tom Lento, Sarnoff is trying to focus on government contracts.

Instead of representing 40 percent of its business, government work

represents 60 percent of its income.

Some of the riffed employees will have something else in their pockets

besides a generous severance package. In accordance with Sarnoff’s

model for employee compensation, individuals can own stock in the

spinoffs that they worked on.

Nevertheless, few of those Sarnoff spinoffs are doing well right now.

Of the 20 spinoffs, Orchid BioSciences and Princeton Lightwave have

reported downsizings. Venture capital money has gotten tight and the

equity market is even tighter.

Less attention is being paid to electronics research, biomedical,

and information technology. More attention is being given to security,

surveillance, and digital cinema. And a fast-track consulting program

called Inventiate (see below) could help lift Sarnoff from the doldrums.

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Net Searchers Closes

Net Searchers, a company that registered Internet domain

names and monitored activities for clients, has closed its Carnegie

Center office. The office opened in early 2001 to give its London-based

parent, Virtual Internet, a United States presence. The plan, according

to Roy Hibberd, who was hired to head up North American operations,

was to add offices in Los Angeles, Chicago and Toronto (U.S. 1, February

28, 2001).

In late-March, a dominant player in the area of domain

registration, completed an acquisition of Virtual Internet for $17

million. As part of the acquisition,, which is based

in New York City, gained control of Virtual Internet’s equity stake

in RegistryPro, a joint venture formed by the two companies to capitalize

on the .pro domain registry for certified professionals.

In April, Net Searchers left Carnegie Center and moved into the New

York offices of, Virtual Internet’s new parent. It is

functioning as a corporate services division, helping’s

clients to fend off cybersquatters, copyright thieves, and parody


Net Searchers/Virtual Internet U.S., 575 Ace Avenue,

New York 10017. 212-798-9129.

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New in Town

Claravista Capital Management Inc., 120 Commons

Way, Montgomery Commons, c/o 301 North Harrison Street, Suite 519,

Princeton 08540. Peter Cunningham, Stephen Engst, and Neal McComb.

609-933-3937; fax, 215-598-2849. Home page:

This three-person firm, new at Montgomery Commons, does asset management

for institutions and high net worth individuals. As "alternative

investment managers" they are trading futures at the current time

but later could launch new products that would include equity programs

and/or hedge funds.

All three founders have worked for Goldman Sachs. Neal McComb in

Manhattan and Stephen Engst and Peter Cunningham at Commodities Corporation,

a Goldman Sachs company. They launched their firm in 2000 and continue

to use a mailing address at the Princeton Shopping Center.

Claravista translates to "clear view" and it also references

an offspring’s name. Cunningham is a Princeton native who went to

high school in Connecticut and Massachusetts. After graduating from

the University of Georgia in 1986, he worked on George Bush’s presidential

campaign and was a liaison officer at the Department of Labor. Engst

is a Deptford native and a 1984 graduate of Rutgers with a software

engineering certificate from Harvard. McComb is from Montreal and

graduated from McGill University in 1996.

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Name Changes

Shaw Environmental and Infrastructure Inc. (SGR),

200 Horizon Center Boulevard, Trenton 08691-9999. 609-584-8900; fax,

609-584-6867. Home page:

IT Corporation, based in Pittsburgh and bankrupt, has been sold to

the Shaw Group, a public company based in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

IT Corporation is the environmental remediation firm that had the

anthrax-clean-up contract for the U.S. Postal Service. It had liabilities

of $60 million, and Shaw’s purchase covered those liabilities plus

gave IT $1.5 million.

Shaw’s workforce of 15,000 has been swollen by 5,000 more workers

from IT. The Shaw Group, founded in 1987, has $2.5 billion in annual

revenues. It does engineering and construction for the power, process,

and environmental infrastructure industries. The new name is going

to be Shaw Environmental and Infrastructure Inc.

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Denis J. O’Brien, 64, on May 9. He had been a sales manager

at Norland Products in Cranbury.

Maryanne Princiotta, 64, on May 12. She had worked at

the alumni records department at Princeton University and for McGraw

Hill on Route 571.

Charles W. Roll Jr., 73, on May 12. He was a study director

at the Gallup Orgnaization and had a consulting conmany, A Polls Inc.

Gail J. Conover Meier, 56, on May 15. She was vice president

of Pennytown in Pennington.

Thomas J. McGrath, 79, on May 19. He was a personnel executive

for Johnson & Johnson.

L. Wendell Estey, 95, on May 10. A teacher at Lawrenceville

School, he co-founded the Princeton Ballet Society with his wife,


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