Nov. 19-Dec. 2, 1999
Alumni advise, predict and apprise public of things to come in the age of technology
Guide cites U.Va., Casteen for leadership and character development efforts
History will judge Clinton harshly, Woodward tells Miller Center crowd

Cancer Center fosters world-class research and clinical care

Slingluff team developing melanoma vaccine
The Academical Village in the Internet Age
What's in the water in Charlottesville?
Internet, the media and politics
In Memoriam
Thanksgiving staples: warm food, warmer memories
Hot Links - Plymouth Colony Archive Project
Conference maps spread of nuclear weapons technology
Artisans Bazaar set for Dec. 3-5

Alumni advise, predict and apprise public of things to come in the age of technology

Jim Carpenter
(above) Day one of the e-summit in Old Cabell Hall Auditorium, which was filled to capacity. (below, left to right) Thomas C. Power, FCC legal adviser; Michael S. McQuary, president and COO of MindSpring Enterprises Inc.; Melvyn P. Leffler, Arts & Sciences dean; Allison H. Abraham; Richard W. Miksad, Engineering School dean; Carl P. Zeithaml, Commerce School dean; Edward A. Snyder, Darden School dean; Jeffrey C. Walker; Halsey M. Minor; Lawton W. Fitt; Timothy A. Koogle; Mark B. Templeton; U. Bertram Ellis Jr.; Jeffrey D. Nuechterlein; and Edward L. Ayers, U.Va.'s Hugh P. Kelly Professor of History, who's a visiting professor at Stanford this year, but returned for the e-summit.


Peggy Harrison

By Rebecca Arrington

Learn a computer language. Look for software applications to be free soon. Expect to cast your vote online in the near future. And say "so long" to PCs, and "hello" to computing appliances, the latest in technological tools.

Such advice and predictions flowed as freely at the first session of the e-summit@virginia as the information that wends its way round-the-clock through the World Wide Web. Leaders in the Internet industry, who also happen to be U.Va. alumni, attended the conference Nov. 12 and 13, apprising the public of things to come and offering guidance to students and budding entrepreneurs.

Session I participants

Allison H. Abraham, COO of iVillage U. Bertram Ellis Jr., chair and CEO of iXL Enterprises
Lawton W. Fitt, Goldman, Sachs & Co.'s Equity Capital Markets Group member responsible for financing high-tech companies Timothy A. Koogle, head of Yahoo!, who developed the model that every major search engine has followed: make the site free to users and support it with advertising
Halsey M. Minor, founder of CNET Inc.
Mark B. Templeton, president and CEO of Citrix Systems Inc. Jeffrey C. Walker, managing partner of Chase Capital Partners, Chase's $7.5 billion global private equity fund, and a senior managing director and member of the executive committee and the policy council of The Chase Manhattan Bank Panel moderator: Edward A. Snyder, Darden School d

The Internet will be woven into people's lives much the way the telephone has been, Timothy Koogle told attendees at the session on "Forecasting the Future: Jeffersonian Principles in the Internet Age."

Allison Abraham agreed, and offered a business tip. Fifty-six-thousand women are now dieting together online through her site; "Integration into users' lifestyles is what will sustain companies."

"The job of the Internet is empowering consumers," Lawton Fitt said. It's also reinvolving users civically. Online voting is a good example of this, she said. The Web offers a "host of accoutrements that enhance users' purchases," said Halsey Minor. For example, "when buying a PC, you can track the item from the time of purchase to delivery, then get support online when you have questions. This is unique to the Web environment."

Switching their discussions from a consumer- to an entrepreneurial-based focus, Jeffrey Walker said that "the Internet is changing the way businesses operate across fields -- chemistry, industry, telecommunications."

Mark Templeton said, don't worry about failure in the high-tech business world. Keep trying. "Eyes are on the front of your head to keep you looking forward." Undergrads should participate in student-run organizations, urged Bertram Ellis. "It's what's unique about this University. ... It's how I cut my teeth on entrepreneurship."

Darden School Dean Ted Snyder moderated the session, posing questions, some of which came from the audience.

Koogle estimated that 200 million people in the U.S. and abroad (or 10 percent of the world population) use the Internet, and that number is projected to triple by 2003. Half to two-thirds of the growth during this time is expected to occur outside the U.S., he said.

Mark Templeton
Jim Carpenter
To support secondary schools, "we need to get them out of the computer business and into the computing business," said Mark Templeton (above). "Web-based server clusters, which store up-to-date information, are being built. Small, wireless computing appliances, such as the one I'm holding, can tap this resource. They cost about $1,000 each," and would replace desktop computers.

Advertising spending is growing too, he said. "It's expected to climb to 24 billion in two to three years, and business-to-business commerce is expected to be $1.2 trillion by 2003. The numbers and dollar amounts show that [the Internet] is a fundamental medium, offering transactions and information simultaneously.

"This type of fundamental shift" in the way business is done doesn't come along often, Koogle noted.

"It's the most phenomenal business opportunity I've seen," said Ellis.

Not all is rosy, though. Walker brought up the widening socio-economic rift in access to technology. "Only 1 percent of inner-city children have access to the Internet. That's ridiculous. Are the 'haves' going to change things for the 'have-nots?'" he asked.

Koogle agreed. "I think we are headed for an Internet 'have and have-not world.' I don't have solutions [to prevent this, but] it starts with philanthropy and grassroots efforts."

"We need to address illiteracy, too, as most information on the Web is text-based, and voice-activation [technology] is a long way off," Minor said.

Walker said wireless tools and devices are what poorer countries are most interested in, as this type of technology reduces the need for costly infrastructure, such as communication lines. He hopes governments allow free access to these tools, instead of limiting citizens' use of such products.

Templeton raised concerns users have about security and privacy issues, when he said, "You can't put your ID badge in your pocket online."

"People are getting more comfortable" online, Koogle said. For example, they're more inclined now to put "their credit card numbers out there." He attributes this phenomenon to the trust users and online service providers are developing. He said companies can ensure this trust by instituting such business practices as third-party audits, which they can display to users as "stamps of approval."

Minor said companies should be "up front" with users, letting them know that "your company will be uploading information from them, which can be helpful in informing them when their systems need to be upgraded," for example.

The Web has the potential to provide freer access to information worldwide, Koogle said. Nations with stringent privacy rules, such as Germany, will need to adjust their environments, Ellis noted.

Cultural stigmas in regard to entrepreneurship must change as well, said Minor, who recalled a recent conversation he had in Portugal with a cab driver. The man told him that entrepreneurship didn't thrive there, as it doesn't in many countries, because it's a disgrace to fail.

Walker said this attitude is slowly shifting, based on changes he's seeing in international investing practices by countries outside the U.S.

Minor predicts that "entrepreneurship will be our country's greatest export."

Asked if online advertising compromises the integrity of the Internet, Abraham said it's a valid concern. She cited as an example credit card companies wanting to advertise on a site where people share information on how to improve their finances and ease their debt burden.

"General consumers understand that to provide free information to users, dollars have to be generated to support businesses such as Yahoo!," Koogle said. Online advertising should be done in a non-intrusive way, and the ad should be relevant to the content of what users are looking at, he said, placing a power bar ad on a sports page, for instance. "It's the right mix you maintain [users'] trust and serve companies placing the ads well," too, he said.

Walker pointed out that offering users free information in exchange for tolerating advertising isn't the only working model. "What about PBS?" he asked.

It uses underwriters and sponsors to support its programing, which like the Internet, is free to viewers.

Koogle said the biggest threat to the Internet "is the possibility of one or a small number of companies getting control of key technology that we all need." Responding to the snickers, he acknowledged that "everyone in the industry fears Microsoft, but also knows that intervention by the government will slow down the industry's progress."

"I fear government intervention far more than Microsoft," Minor said.

Walker replied, "Microsoft should be feared. They're spending $3 billion in research," but noted that such companies usually "die of their own weight."

Asked about their preference for propriety-based versus communal software, Koogle said operating systems should be propriety-based. Application programs, however, are another story.

Minor predicts in three to four years that online services will replace user-owned software applications. "Software will be free. Users will pay for service," he said. "Physical products will have to continue to improve, though," Templeton said. Printers, for example, could have embedded services to alert users when toner cartridge or paper is low, for example, and inform them that an order for the needed supplies has been placed and that "entrepreneurship will be our country's greatest export."

"Technology pervades our life and will continue to do so evermore," Koogle said. "Darwin was right," he said, setting up an analogy between human evolution and technological advances. "I think we're at the phase in our industry where there's true critical mass, [and] it will sort itself out. New companies will either evolve or expire. Think about what you can be doing in the paradigm shift taking place now," he told the audience.


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