• 1971 August 08
    (b.) - ?


An American entrepreneur, he is the founder of EarthLink, co-founder of eCompanies, and the founder and current Chairman of Boingo. He was born in New York City, and soon after, the family moved to Los Angeles. He lived for a time with his maternal grandfather, David DeWitt, an IBM Fellow, who played a large part in introducing him to technology. At the age of 9, he got his first computer, a Sinclair ZX81 on which he learned to program in BASIC. At age 16, he graduated from The Delphian School, a private boarding school in Oregon, which uses study methods developed by L. Ron Hubbard. He got a job at an entertainment advertising firm, where he became exposed to Apple Macintosh hardware and soon managed the digital imaging department. He then moved on to a larger advertising agency, Mednick & Associates, where he held a similar role until he was 18. In late 1990, at the age of 19, he and a friend raised money from family and friends and opened Mocha Gallery, an art gallery and coffee house in L.A. He and his partner eventually changed the name to Cafe Mocha and took over another coffeehouse called Joe Cafe in Studio City, California. In 1992, while still managing Cafe Mocha, he and friend Adam Wicks Walker opened Dayton/Walker Design, a Studio City advertising and design firm. Dayton/Walker served entertainment clients including Fox Television, Disney, Columbia Pictures, Sony Pictures, and Warner Brothers. In 1993, he heard about the Internet. After spending 80 hours trying to get his Macintosh computer to log in, he finally got connected. Realizing that the Internet was likely to become the next mass medium, in 1994 he decided to start EarthLink. In search of startup capital, he approached Kevin O'Donnell, father of a childhood friend. O'Donnell brought in Reed Slatkin and the two became EarthLink's first financial backers. (Though they have sometimes been referred to as EarthLink co-founders, EarthLink and numerous media sources reserve the "Founder" title for him alone). Other investors followed, including Greg B. Abbott, former AT&T CFO Robert Kavner and Chip Lacy, and eventually larger investors such as George Soros. He described what it was like in the early days in a July 2008 article in Vanity Fair titled, ?An Oral History of the Internet?. He began EarthLink in 600 square feet of space in an office in Los Angeles. He expanded the company and by the summer of 1995 EarthLink was able to provide national service enabled by its agreement with UUNET. In 1996 he moved from founding CEO to Executive Chairman, handing over day-to-day operations of the company to Charles "Garry" Betty. At the time, the company was growing at a rate of 5 percent to 10 percent a week. A long-time Mac user, in 1998, he led the creation of a strategic partnership with Steve Jobs at Apple that saw EarthLink become the default ISP preloaded on the iMac, and later led to a $200M investment by Apple in the company. EarthLink grew to become a leading Internet service provider, with millions of customers and over $1 billion in annual revenue. In June 1999, he became non-executive Chairman of EarthLink and formed eCompanies with former Disney Internet chief Jake Winebaum. eCompanies began as an incubator and venture capital fund for developing Internet companies. It is a privately held company, and while it struggled for a time, it ultimately launched several successful companies, including LowerMyBills.com, which was purchased by Experian in 2005 for $380M, JAMDAT Mobile, which went public and was then purchased by Electronic Arts in 2005 for $680 million, and Business.com (the domain for which he and Winebaum bought for $7.5M during the height of the dot com bubble), which was purchased by RH Donnelly in 2007 for $345 million. He started Boingo Wireless in 2001 to solve the fragmentation problem inherent in Wi-Fi networks. Boingo aggregates Wi-Fi ?hot spots? around the globe into a single system for consumers and it has grown into one of the largest Wi-Fi operators in the world. He serves as Boingo's Chairman. Boingo filed to go public in January 2011, listing him as owning 15%. On May 4, 2011, Boingo Wireless went public selling 5,770,000 shares at $13.50, raising $77.9 million. Of the shares sold in the offering, the company sold 3,846,800 shares and selling stockholders 1,923,200 shares. After the offering, the company has 32.5 million shares out, giving the company a market capitalization of around $439 million on the offering. He became CEO of Helio upon the company?s launch in 2005. At that time, he resigned as Chairman of EarthLink but remained a Director. In January 2008 he was appointed Chairman of Helio's Board of Directors for the months leading up to Helio's sale. Helio was acquired by Virgin Mobile USA in 2008. He is an investor and board member of semantic web startup Diffbot and online art marketplace Artsy, which raised a reported $18.5 million in April, 2014, and at the time, he said of the art market and company, ?Only very few people who could afford to buy are doing so. Many are held back by high barriers to entry, which Artsy is solving.? He serves on the advisory board of the Center for Public Leadership at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. He was chosen as Entrepreneur of the Year by the Lloyd Greif Center at the University of Southern California's Marshall School of Business. He is a recipient of the Dream Keeper award from the I Have a Dream Foundation; and in 1999 he was named to the MIT Technology Review TR100 as one of the top 100 innovators in the world under the age of 35.
  • Date of Birth:

    1971 August 08
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  • Noted For:

    Founder of EarthLink, co-founder of eCompanies, and founder of Boingo
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