Corrections or additions?
These articles by Barbara Fox and Melinda Sherwood were published in U.S. 1 Newspaper on June 30, 1999.
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Rising Stars Of the Internet
Six years ago Charlie Kreitzberg of Cognetics was
fashioning the language, HTML, that drives most Internet applications
today. Today scientists in Princeton area laboratories are crafting
the Internet of tomorrow. NEC’s Max Ott is working on what is known
as the Active Network, and the team of Steve Lawrence and Lee Giles,
also of NEC, is creating a browser for the next decade.
Kreitzberg is surely the most eminent representative of the Internet’s
past, and the NEC researchers are harbingers of the Internet’s future.
Yet they are just a few of the scientists, engineers, and designers
working in the laboratories and design shops of Princeton, churning
out fabulous technologies and pioneering websites, trying to put their
stakes in the ever-sifting sands of cyberspace:
Drive (http:www.cognetics.com). After years of working in relative
obscurity, Kreitzberg was recognized as one of New Jersey’s Internet
Innovators at the Technology New Jersey (TNJ) awards earlier this
month. In 1993 Kreitzberg was featured at a U.S. 1 computer showcase.
"We like to say that we are building 21st century information
tools for today’s knowledge workers," said Kreitzberg then.
Prophetic words, when the Internet was in its infancy. What helped
it to grow is that people learned that by using hypertext or HTML
code they could link documents to each other. Kreitzberg can take
a good measure of credit for this.
During the 1970s Kreitzberg, a licensed psychologist, had been director
of technology R&D at Educational Testing Service. He who was exploring
software designs for electronic books. Kreitzberg tells the story:
"A friend of mine, Ben Shneiderman at the University of Maryland,
was able to bring text up on a screen and highlight certain words
and when you clicked on those words you would jump to a new page explaining
that word. He called it Hypertext. He also called the product a browser,
and I negotiated a license to commercialize hypertext from the University
of Maryland. We then built a product called Hyperties and built a
World Wide Web using this kind of point and click technology. Hyperties
— using what is now HTML — had a profound influence on the
shape of computing today."
Kreitzberg had already offered Hyperties (Hypertext Markup Language
or HTML) to Bill Gates, when Gates was smaller potatoes than he is
today, but Hyperties never made it past Microsoft’s staff review.
IBM executives had also turned a blind eye to its possibilities. But
Kreitzberg sent out the protocol for showing a hyperlink to an E-mail
list. One of the recipients was Tim Berners Lee, father of what is
now the World Wide Web. The rest, as they say, is history.
4 Independence Way (http:www.ccrl.nj.nec.com). "What I am
doing is not related to the current web but how it will evolve five
years down the line," says Ott. "Now the web is a down pipe.
You throw something in, and it comes out the other side. I am interested
in computational resources inside the Internet, so that while data
is being sent, some transformation is taking place."
In Ott’s vision of the future, instead of an expensive processor and
a terminal, web users will get a $50 panel. Instead of a processor
that is idle 95 percent of the time, the processor will reside on
the Internet, utilized by many people, and be a cheap resource. "We
are starting to have enough processing power with general purpose
CPUs that we can think of processing video in real time," says
For example, a homeowner could keep a camera at the front door with
24-hour video feeds. The video’s database could recognize and label
each person who comes to the door.
Ott grew up in Bad Hall, Austria, where his parents had a decorating
business. He went to the University of Vienna, Class of ’87, and wrote
his PhD thesis on real time video processing at the University of
Tokyo. He turned down a job with the Sarnoff Corporation to be a senior
research staff member at 4 Independence Way. He and his wife have
two preschool children.
A multimedia Active Network is still mired in academic discussions,
but Ott says it might operate in less than five years. When the Active
Network does get here, if you can afford a radio now, you would be
able to afford an Internet computer, says Ott. "We are moving
to a different level of communication. Now we only have voice. If
you compare it to a natural conversation, we wouldn’t be in there
blindfolded, we have multiple senses. It is just natural that our
technical communications will support all that."
awards for changing the way web search engine companies were viewed
by their customers and opening the door for other search technologies.
They work in the same Independence Way building as Ott does but they
belong to NEC Research Institute (http://www.neci.nj.nec.com
Their paper, published in Science in April, 1998, statistically showed
that the number of pages on the indexable World Wide Web was much
larger than anyone had thought, and that no single search engine covered
more than a third of the pages (U.S. 1, May 27, 1998). Not only did
these findings affect global Internet commerce, but the Lawrence-Giles
team is hard at work to devise its own new way of searching on the
What other Rising Stars are breaking new ground in the greater Princeton
business community? U.S. 1 sought out companies and people excelling
in three different areas related to the Internet: The technology that
makes it all possible; interactive sites that bring people to the
Internet; and E-commerce applications. Nominations were solicited
from readers (polled via fax); from entries in the Technology New
Jersey contest referred to above; and from our editors.
On the dawn of the new millennium, a constellation of Rising Stars
in the cyberspace around us:
<B>Ray Ingram of Productivity Works Inc. in
Trenton (http://www.prodworks.com) won a TNJ Internet Innovator
award. Ingram founded a non-profit organization called Disabilities
Information Resources (DINF) to collect information on disabilities
and related subjects and put it on the World Wide Web. The firm pioneered
in web accessibility with pwWebSpeak, a nonvisual browser that was
the first to provide effective and productive access to the Web for
those with visual and reading impairment (U.S. 1, July 22, 1998).
Web access over the telephone is provided by psTelephone/Plus, which
has Intelligent Agent technology for tailored E-mail and content presentation.
Other products include a browser for the touch screen kiosk that allows
for non-visual access and pwSpeech, a toolkit for Windows Workstations
to create self voicing user interfaces using digital audio and synthesized
speech. An Lp line of products, established with digital audio experts
in Sweden, provides recording, editing, disabilities production, and
playback tools for creating synchronized multi-media locally and on
Two future web-based companies are going public at this
moment. Both are hence in the SEC-imposed "quiet period."
Tom Evslin is the founder, chairman, and CEO of ITXC Corp.
on College Road (http://www.itxc.com). He won one of TNJ’s
"Internet Innovator" awards, and as a pioneer in providing
wholesale IP telephony services, the company also won a spot in Red
Herring magazine’s "Top 50 private companies of the electronic
Evslin founded the company with seed capital from AT&T and VocalTec.
In 18 months he built a global network that sends millions of minutes
to more than 100 countries daily (U.S. 1, September 17, 1997, and
July 15, 1998). He hopes to raise $86.2 million but has not specified
details of the initial public offering (IPO).
Evslin’s vision is based on networks that incorporate packet technology
and are comprised of ultra-reliable Sonet rings that can carry data
and voice both ways around a loop. The networks can accommodate calls
from one computer to another, from a computer phone to a "regular"
phone, or between regular phones. With its nearly 80 employees, ITXC
is helping to establish protocols on the backbone so that quality
can be guaranteed to the business user and is building intelligent
tools to manage the quality.
<B>Donald Licciardello first got intrigued by banking
operations back in the early 1980s, when he was a Princeton University
physics professor frustrated by the awkwardness of the then novel
bank-by-telephone systems. He formed his own company to do banking
by phone and eventually steered it in a new direction — processing
back office transactions — and gave it a new name, Princeton
e-Com, now based at Research Park (http://www.princetonecom.com
In March Licciardello and Ronald W. Averett, president and COO, filed
a preliminary statement — with the Securities and Exchange Commission
for a $46 million IPO, with stock to trade on Nasdaq under the symbol
ECOM (U.S. 1, April 7, 1999).
A University of Scranton alumnus, Class of 1968, with a Ph.D. from
the University of Virginia, Licciardello founded the firm as Princeton
Telecom in 1984 and changed the name in time for the IPO. Princeton
e-Com does Internet bill publishing and payment services for large
businesses and financial institutions. The SEC filing revealed plans
to sell 3 million shares at from $9 to $11 in mid July for a net return
of $33 million.
The prospectus notes that the firm has had net losses in each of the
past five years, and that losses increased last year by 57 percent,
going to $3.4 million in 1998. But revenues grew 26 percent to $3.8
million in 1998. Billing Concepts, based in San Antonio, Texas, owns
23 percent of the 2.3 million existing shares. The company has grown
to about 100 employees in 11,000 square feet at Research Park.
As an outsource solution for bill presentment and payment, the firm
has brand neutral products that eliminate the need for companies to
generate and mail paper bills as well as the need for consumers to
write and mail checks.
Though Princeton e-Com gets a slot in the top lineup for its technology,
not its home page, the actual website would get low marks, if judged,
because it requires downloading software. For a security conscious
banking firm to lack a text version of their home page seems questionable.
On Poor Farm Road, Kevin McGuire of Trintech
heads the team developing secure encryption technologies that are
changing the E-commerce scene (http://www.trintech.com).
On June 18 it had very big news — it launched its own "ezCard,"
an electronic version of a consumer’s plastic credit or debit card.
This card automatically enters payment information onto an online
payment form. Once downloaded from the card issuer’s site, the branded
ezCard can sit as an icon on the desktop, ready for use. If the user
types in the correct password, the shipping address, telephone number,
and E-mail address — is filled in automatically.
was a winner of a TNJ Internet Innovator award. He pioneered in the
creation of "cookies" that identify the demographics of E-commerce
consumers (U.S. 1, September 11, 1996).
Raj Lakhanpal is an MD with a URL who hopes to
have an IPO very soon. In 1996 the emergency room physician launched
a health website from the basement of his Plainsboro home. Little
did he know that, in just a few years, he would be competing against
legendary figures like former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop in the
rapidly growing and potentially lucrative field of interactive health
care. Competing well, in fact.
His company, HealthAtoZ.com — a medical library and interactive
wellness-management program based at Cedar Brook Corporate Center
— gets nearly 30 million hits per month at http://www.healthatoz.com.
The site draws sponsorships and advertisements from companies like
Merck, Parke Davis, and Abbott Pharmaceuticals. It caters to both
ordinary folks and professionals in the medical field.
In a few months, E-commerce should be integrated within the site;
over-the-counter medicines and health products will be available directly
through the site, and registered visitors will receive custom-tailored
product plugs. With an MD at the helm, and an advisory board that
includes the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy, HealthAtoZ has a good
chance of withstanding scrutiny by the Federal Trade Commission as
According to the FTC, nearly 29 percent of Americans are using the
web to hunt down medical information, a fact that Lakhanpal, CEO and
president of HealthAtoZ, attributes to the changing nature of the
patient-doctor relationship. "In this managed care environment,
physicians have no time to keep in touch with their patients,"
he says. "We don’t want to play the role that your primary care
provider can do, but we can help you ask the questions and help you
stay in touch with your health." With E-Mate, an interactive portion
of the site that allows people to create and track fitness routines,
document vaccinations, and fill-in details on prescription medicine,
registered users get a personal management tool that can be used by
the whole family.
Lakhanpal grew up in India, where he attended Amritser Medical College,
Class of 1982, and went to England the following year for his residency
at the Royal College of Surgeons, where he was certified. In 1989,
Lakhanpal trained in emergency medicine and the New York Medical College’s
Metropolitan Hospital and St. Vincent’s Hospital.
While working as the associate director of emergency services at Helene
Fuld, Lakhanpal decided to create an online program offering advanced
training for medical professionals like himself. Under the name Medical
Network Inc., he launched MedConnect in the basement of his home in
1995. The feedback was positive, and in many respects, unanticipated.
"We kept getting E-mails saying when are you going to start a
site for consumers," he says.
At first, Lakhanpal’s "consumer" site was little more than
a search engine, but as HealthAtoZ took off, he decided to align his
company completely with the flagship website and dropped the old name.
MedConnect is now HealthAtoZ professional, and Lakhanpal employs writers,
programmers, and editors in the company’s new office at 8 Cedar Brook
Road, which Lakhanpal calls a "beehive."
One of those bees is executive editor Emily Van Ness,
a journalist and Woodrow Wilson fellow who previously consulted for
the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Health Department of Philadelphia.
It was her idea to organize the site in terms of the life-cycle or
"milestone" moments. As an editor in an interactive medium,
Van Ness not only has to stay on top of the latest developments in
medicine, she has to tune her ear to the people using the site as
well. "The greatest challenge at this point is trying to be relevant,"
she says. "That’s why we encourage interactivity. We get upwards
of 100 E-mails a day from users and we try to respond to each of those."
With support from corporate sponsors and advertising, HealthAtoZ can
afford to lavish "personal attention" on their site users.
Ads run anywhere from $5,000 to $25,000 per month. Lakhanpal hopes
to increase the bottom line, and create a more efficient tool for
consumers by integrating E-commerce into the equation. For example,
when reading about allergies, users will be able to click onto the
various companies manufacturing allergy treatments, and may be able
to order a product directly from an electronic pharmacy. "We may
send them to CVS or Rite Aid or Walgreens, or we may develop the HealthAtoZ
pharmacy," Lakhanpal says.
Customization of marketing is going to be a key element of the site.
Even though HealthAtoZ is free, users must register to get full access
to E-Mate, which requires input of basic demographic information.
Anonymity is assured, but advertisers are going to use the demographic
information to do direct marketing to site users.
How will the incorporation of ads and E-Commerce affect the integrity
the editorial? Jeffrey Stein, vice president of marketing, says that’s
an issue he has been carefully considering. "The E-commerce model
is much different than our present model so there would have to be
some changes," he says. "We would have to structure the sponsorship
situation in a very different manner contractually. It would be very
specific for the particular model. There are certain areas that are
natural for the integration of products — what you should have
when you leave the hospital, for example. Unlike some of my colleagues
in the industry, who are interested in getting the sale, I want the
sale, but I’m very cognizant of the FDA regulations, so when I’m thinking
of something, I talk to Emily."
"We think about whether the advertiser is right for us," says
Van Ness. "It’s not as though we’re in a position to turn people
away, but we’re very conscious that we’re in a position as guardians."
Although he is a medical authority, Lakhanpal will play very little
role in formulating the editorial content of HealthAtoZ — that
will be left to the editors and medical advisory board. "It’s
very difficult to play that role — as the organization grows it
needs my support in shaking hands, support in making decisions, support
in hiring people," he says. In fact, HealthAtoZ is hiring people
in positions across the board. Meanwhile, Lakhanpal is steering the
company closer to going public; he just raised $1.2 million dollars
from private investors, and signed Ruder Finn on as PR consultants.
Lakhanpal may not be editing the site, but he still has to live with
it. "My wife uses E-mate," he says. "I was one of the
guinea pigs. I’ve been living with it and growing with it. I think
it’s a wonderful tool.
— Melinda Sherwood
T1A, Cranbury 08512. Raj Lakhanpal MD FACEP, president. 609-409-8200;
fax, 609-409-8130. Home page: http://healthatoz.com.
When a young company goes out to get money, the CEO,
CFO, and COO trundle around the country with their flip charts and
their smooth talk, and they visit groups of institutional representatives
who can invest big bucks. It’s called a "dog and pony show."
But like everything else in this changing world, some of these investment
information sessions are moving to the Internet. And thanks to the
Internet’s talent for individualizing everything, the former "dog
and pony show" can be a more personal, one-to-one chat between
the young company and the potential investor.
Kim Louth, CEO of Equity Research Group (ERG) at 5 Vaughn
Drive, is hooking up investors with small-cap and mid-cap companies
by using the Internet. "We invite the CEO, COO, and CFO to present
their corporate strategies and prospects for their company at the
group luncheon we host for our investors," says Louth. Earlier
this month she aired her first luncheon presentation live on http://www.equityresearchgroup.com.
Invited viewers participated in the interactive question and answer
The webcast presentations are a joint effort between ERG, UST Securities
Corp. and U.S. Trust Company. Louth’s husband, C. John Louth CFA,
is UST Securities’ vice president of institutional sales. The couple
founded ERG as a private financial consulting firm to help small and
mid-cap companies hook up with major institutional investors.
ERG does not take positions in the securities of the companies it
features, nor does it advise on "buy" or "sell" orders.
Rather, it charges the presenting company a service fee for the online
conferences and institutional clients may pay commissions on stock
transactions. ERG was not the first in the field to do online conferencing;
a Boston firm, Wall Street Forum, does several conferences weekly.
"Our strength is in knowing the investment criteria of the portfolio
managers and analysts we call on," says Kim Louth, "then screening
and presenting those companies we believe merit their attention. We
highlight companies that we believe are suffering from an attention
deficit. We decided we wanted to pick our own stocks and bring management
to investors without being influenced by the brokerage firm’s ulterior
She cites a survey by Tempest Consultants showing that small and mid-cap
managers are frustrated with lack of coverage by analysts. "The
private equity markets are especially focussed on technology-related
issues now, much to the detriment of the biotech industry, which has
traditionally relied upon the venture capital markets to launch new
and vital products."
Louth believes the interactive Q&A is particularly important for new
companies, because it helps the investors to judge the management
team. "Assessing the quality of a company’s decision-making managers
is especially key in small and mid-cap companies," says Louth,
"where individual values and attitudes have a pervasive impact
on an organization’s prospects. The smaller the company, the more
important the quality of management. The investment community knows
the value of bringing management into their view, to eyeball them
as they talk."
A dozen people attend the luncheons, and a fixed camera focused on
the podium delivers an eighth-page real-time video, available through
Microsoft Media Player or EyeQ Multimedia Manager.
Kim Casagrande Louth grew up in California; her father was a stock
broker and her mother did epidemiological cancer research. She majored
in political science and constitutional law at UCLA and worked on
Wall Street for Tucker Anthony and Dean Witter, first as an over-the-counter
stock trader and then as a floor broker with a seat on the New York
Stock Exchange. She took a hiatus from Wall Street to start her family
(she has two children) and open retail jewelry shops in California
and Colorado. When the recession hit, she went back to Wall Street,
doing institutional research sales for Janney Montgomery Scott, and
there met and married Jack Louth.
Her first success story, Handy & Harmon, was ignored by analysts and
severely undervalued. Other successes were with Osteotech in Eatontown,
which tripled in price, and Gynetics, the oral contraceptive firm
in Belle Mead, which received a $2.25 million infusion from Barr Laboratories.
These successes did not have online components; ERG did its first
online conference in June. It plans to webcast from the New Jersey
Technology Council’s showcase next fall.
One hitch: many in Louth’s target audience are technology impaired
— they have no speakers for their Internet PCs and their firewalls
block downloads of multimedia programs for the live video chats. But
Louth expects the keeping-up-with-the-Joneses instinct to prevail:
"With the investment community, if anyone thinks someone else
has an edge, they will be in there in a minute.
Louth objects to "dog and pony show" both as a term and as
a concept. "At traditional brokerage firms we had done initial
public offerings (IPOs) and secondary offerings with canned presentations
that the investment bankers had formulated. We prefer that the company
officers sit down in a more casual format and tell who they are and
where they are in their earnings outlook and acquisition strategies.
It is the same function but it is more natural and conversational,
rather than shaped by the investment bankers."
— Barbara Fox
08540. Kim Louth, CEO. 609-734-7736; fax, 609-520-1635. Home page:
Founded by David Reim, Simstar Digital Media
is a Research Park-based digital media design and engineering firm
that works exclusively for healthcare clients (http://www.simstar.com).
Reim’s Claritin site (http://www.claritin.com) was the
very first pharmaceutical website to use personalization technology,
and it won TNJ’s second prize overall, second only to Dow Jones Interactive.
At "Your Personal Allergy Resource," launched two years ago,
an allergy sufferer can get a customized web page with twice daily
pollen reports by zipcode, breaking news about the allergy season
in the local area, and articles drawn from a database of more than
200 allergy-related stories.
The oldest of four brothers, Reim majored in computer science at the
University of California at San Diego and worked for Apple Computer
before going to Wharton for his MBA. When his wife enrolled at Robert
Wood Johnson Medical School they moved east, and now she is a pathologist
and they have three children under three.
Reim worked closely with the Food and Drug Administration to pioneer
this prototype in the heavily regulated environment. "We are developing
a direct, ongoing relationship with an allergy sufferer that is immediate,
relevant, and mutual," says Reim. "Since our product is used
year in and year out, these types of highly targeted users have significant
value to the brand. This is leading the pharmaceutical industry into
completely new ground. Claritin.com is proving to the industry that
the Internet is a viable way to reach out to the consumer while still
maintaining all of the control required by this heavily regulated
Success statistics: A satisfaction survey reaps 8.75 out of the highest
possible score of 10. And the response rate for a $5 coupon available
at the site shows a redemption rate that equals traditional media
for a fraction of the cost. Says Reim: "We were able to combine
all of this data to show a skeptical senior management a significant
return on investment."
Corrections or additions?
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