Technology Stars: Kreitzberg and Ott

NEC: For Far Future

Internet Technology: Enabling the Disabled

Going Public: IP Telephony

Going Public: Back Office Banking

Tools for Commerce

Cookie Maker

Health & Wellness

Investment Groups

Sneezing Sufferers

Corrections or additions?

These articles by Barbara Fox and Melinda Sherwood were published in U.S. 1 Newspaper on June 30, 1999.

All rights reserved.

Rising Stars Of the Internet

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Technology Stars: Kreitzberg and Ott

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:

Charles Kreitzberg of Cognetics Inc. on Everett

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.

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NEC: For Far Future

Max Ott of NEC USA C&C Research Laboratories at

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

Ott.

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."

Steve Lawrence and Lee Giles won TNJ Internet Innovator

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

‘Net.

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:

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Internet Technology: Enabling the Disabled

<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

the web.

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Going Public: IP Telephony

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

economy."

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.

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Going Public: Back Office Banking

<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.

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Tools for Commerce

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.

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Cookie Maker

Walter Krieg at InfoFirst in Research Park (http://www.infofirst.com)

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).

Interactive Stars:

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Health & Wellness

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

well.

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

HealthAtoZ.com, 8 Cedar Brook Drive North, Suite

T1A, Cranbury 08512. Raj Lakhanpal MD FACEP, president. 609-409-8200;

fax, 609-409-8130. Home page: http://healthatoz.com.

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Investment Groups

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

period.

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

motive."

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

Equity Research Group, 5 Vaughn Drive, Princeton

08540. Kim Louth, CEO. 609-734-7736; fax, 609-520-1635. Home page:

http://www.equityresearchgroup.com.

Top Of Page
Sneezing Sufferers

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

industry."

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."


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