From: Rohit Khare (email@example.com)
Date: Wed Mar 08 2000 - 23:27:05 PST
UC Irvine Institute for Software Research types should be familiar
with Mr. Hooper, at least.... Rohit
PS. Someone cashed in serious chits with Steve Lohr to get a
non-event published this high up the Thursday Circuits page of the
NYT biz section. Why waste ink announcing yourself if you have
nothing exciting to actually reveal about what you're investing in?
You're left without a hint, any hint, as to what the wireless era
might mean to readers. And the web site ---
http://www.ignitioncorp.com/ to the cognoscenti -- says even less.
March 9, 2000
New Venture Looks Beyond the PC Era
Led by Ex-Microsoft Officials and Others
By STEVE LOHR
A group of former executives from the Microsoft Corporation are
expected to announce today the creation of a holding company to
invest in and nurture start-ups focused on what has been called the
"post-PC world," a time when the personal computer and Microsoft no
longer dominate the technology markets.
The chairman and chief executive of the new venture, the Ignition
Corporation, is Brad Silverberg, 45, a former senior executive at
Microsoft who guided the company's catch-up strategy to embrace the
Internet. He is being joined by seven former Microsoft managers who
were part of that campaign, including Cameron Myhrvold, John Ludwig
and Jonathan Roberts.
The founding group also includes a pair of wireless executives: Steve
Hooper, former chief executive of McCaw Cellular Communications, and
Kathy Iskra, the former chief financial officer of Nextlink
The venture will investment mainly in companies developing wireless
Internet access, the technologies that bridge the cellular telephone
and the hand-held computer.
"We believe that the next big thing that is going to change the
world, as the PC and the Internet did, will be wireless Internet,"
Mr. Silverberg said. "It's going to be one of those tidal waves in
Mr. Roberts, 36, formerly headed Windows CE, Microsoft's operating
system for hand-held computers. Yet today's hand-held computers -- a
fast-growing market led by the popular Palm line of personal digital
assistants -- are forerunners of what Mr. Roberts predicts will
evolve into more sophisticated "intelligent devices."
This emerging category, he said, will be able to wirelessly send and
receive communications ranging from e-mail and scheduling information
to alerting users to bargains at stores.
"They will be lifestyle devices, and they will go well beyond what
the PC has done," Mr. Roberts said.
The software expertise of the former Microsoft executives should be a
crucial asset, Mr. Silverberg said. "Software is going to play a big
role in the development of the wireless Internet, just as software
was the spark that brought the Internet to life," he said.
Ignition intends to make buy-and-hold investments. It will make what
Mr. Silverberg called "significant but noncontrolling stakes" in a
small group of companies. He said Ignition was already in discussions
with a handful of companies.
"But we're not going to follow the typical venture-capital model of
investing in companies, taking them public, flipping those
investments and starting all over," Mr. Silverberg said. "We'll be in
for the long haul. We're builders, not financial engineers."
Ignition, which is based in Bellevue, Wash., is beginning with $140
million in working capital. In addition to its founders, the company
has three other investors: Qualcomm Inc., Softbank Venture Capital
and the Madrona Venture Group.
Industry consultants say that while Ignition has an impressive team,
its lack of international expertise may be a drawback. Western Europe
has been the pace setter in wireless markets today, with 160 million
cell phone users, compared with about 90 million in the United
States, according to Shosteck Associates, a consulting firm in
"In the Internet, America is the cutting edge, but in wireless we're
not," said Jane Zweig, executive vice president of Shosteck
Associates. "The issue for Ignition will be whether they really
understand the wireless world."
The team from Microsoft is working hard at that challenge. Rather
than a passive investment, Ignition represents their post-Microsoft
"This is our gig," Mr. Roberts said. "We're checking the e-mail at
midnight and again at 5 a.m."
At Microsoft, the term "post-PC" computing has been fiercely
resisted. The hand-held business that Mr. Roberts once headed was
instead deemed to be part of "PC-plus" computing. While he may have
left, Mr. Roberts still echoes the Microsoft marketing message. "This
is the next wave of computing, but each wave augments and amplifies
the previous one," he said.
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