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Are These People Really Worth $200 Million?

...and other Silicon Alley mysteries debated -- like what it takes to be wildly successful, why profits don't matter (yet), and what happens when the bubble bursts.

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The Participants

CHAN SUH, 37, a former promotions staffer at New York Magazine, designed a Website for Vibe magazine and, in the basement of Time Inc., created Agency.com, now among the foremost advertising agencies specializing in the Internet.

TODD KRIZELMAN and STEPHAN PATERNOT, both 25, co-CEOs of theglobe.com, a "community" site, took their company public last November in one of the largest first-day run-ups of all time. Their company, with revenues last year of $5.5 million and a cumulative loss of $20 million, now has a market value of $800 million.

MICHAEL WOLFF, 45, writes the "Media" column at New York. Wolff's book Burn Rate, published last year, is his story of the birth of the Internet industry -- AOL, Wired, the search engines, the race for venture capital, Silicon Valley and Silicon Alley -- and the rise and fall of his own business, Wolff New Media.

BRUCE JUDSON, 40, is a co-founder of Time Warner's Pathfinder -- one of the first sites to develop advertising on the Web. He's written two books on Internet business -- NetMarketing and HyperWars -- and now runs the Judson Group, which holds stakes in several start-up Internet enterprises, including WebClipping.com.

MARY ANN PACKO, 43, is a former director of the Internet Advertising Bureau. She is president and COO of Media Metrix, one of the leading Internet-audience-measurement companies.

MARTIN NISENHOLTZ, 44, is president of the New York Times Electronic Media Company. He was previously Ameritech's new-media czar and, before that, founder of the interactive-marketing group at Ogilvy & Mather.

SCOTT KURNIT, 44, a former senior executive at Prodigy and CEO of the ill-fated News Corp.-MCI enterprise iGuide, launched the Miningco.com in 1997. The company, with 1998 revenues of $3.7 million and a cumulative loss of $26.6 million, went public last month and now has a market value of $976 million.

A year ago, New York's Silicon Alley was a ragtag group of companies, few of which had ever earned a dime. But over the past twelve months, eight companies in the city doing dot-com business have sold stock to the public and reaped a market value of $14 billion. During the next few months, thirteen more companies will race to "get out" (before the bubble bursts) and realize an additional worth of as much as $28 billion -- making the Internet, at least in terms of market value, one of the biggest businesses in the city.

New York invited some of the executives of these enterprises -- and some of the city's nouveau deca-millionaires -- to sit down and discuss the state of the business. The discussion, moderated by New York's media columnist Michael Wolff (who is also the author of the controversial Internet-industry memoir Burn Rate), confronted the basic questions raging in and out of the Internet industry: When will Internet companies make money, and when will they get into trouble if they don't? Do big media companies really know the difference between old and new media? In the end, when all is said and done, who will be left standing? And, of course, how does it feel to be rich beyond all imagination?

The discussion included the CEOs of two newly minted public Internet companies -- Scott Kurnit of the miningco.com, and Stephan Paternot and Todd Krizelman, co-CEOs of theglobe.com -- as well as Mary Ann Packo, president and COO of Media Metrix, a soon-to-go-public Internet company; the president of an old medium's new-media company, Martin Nisenholtz of the New York Times; a new-media adman, Chan Suh; and Internet pioneer and author Bruce Judson.


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