Tech stars to glow at Planetarium gala
March 14, 2005
BY MICHAEL KRAUSS
Chris Rock won't be
hosting when the stars of Chicago's technology community gather
Tuesday night at the Adler Planetarium. The scene will be the
Illinois Information Technology Association's annual City Lights
of gold statues, Fred Hoch, president of the group that wants
to transform Illinois into a tech powerhouse, will be handing
out Lighthouse and Rising Star awards. The purpose is to honor
successful tech companies that are guiding lights and future luminaries.
Contenders for the
Lighthouse award include SEI, John Jasper's Oak Brook-based company
that helped launch Chicago-based Navteq and provides managed services
and systems integration for clients like McDonald's.
Look for Joe Rickard,
CTO of Chicago's Incapital Holdings, to bite his lip as the envelope
is opened. Rickard's team is vying for a Lighthouse for its creation
of proprietary technology systems offered to more than 400 retail
Coming down the virtual
red carpet you'll find Kent Steffen, CEO of Chicago-based Telution,
an operations support software provider to telecommunications
and cable television companies. The alum of Andersen Consulting
and the University of Illinois wants more than the venture funding
he's received from Draper Fisher Jurvetson and MC Venture Partners.
He'd like to win.
Joan Rivers and her
daughter, Melissa, won't be elbowing Star Jones Reynolds to trade
small talk with Rising Star award nominees like Opus Group CEO
Michael Callaghan. While Callaghan is a strong contender, Fieldglass
CEO Jai Shekhawat is looking pretty fit in this category.
Will they be wearing
Armani or denim? The event is black tie optional, and both are
in fashion with this crowd.
There's Rolling Meadows-
based User Centric Managing Director Gavin Lew. His company launched
in 2001 with no capital investment. Last year he boasted sales
of $2.6 million. The members of the academy -- I mean the judges
at the ITA -- are known to favor Horatio Alger stories.
You say you've never
heard of these companies? They're not Boeing -- we've all heard
of Boeing -- or Motorola. That's true. But who would have thought
watching "Rawhide" years ago that TV western actor Clint
Eastwood would become one of America's most accomplished actors
While Hilary Swank
won best actress honors for "Million Dollar Baby," there
just might be some real million-dollar babies in the audience
Tuesday at the Adler.
Chicagoan Sean Murdock,
executive director of the NanoBusiness Alliance, guided 45 nano-tech
CEOs to Washington recently to lobby for continued funding for
this red-hot technology.
Bill Moffit, CEO of
Northbrook-based Nanosphere, missed the trip. He had a cold. While
Moffit's company won't provide a cure for the flu, it will help
diagnose serious disease.
nanotech professor Chad Mirkin explains that Nanosphere has an
"excellent chance of revolution-izing the field of medical
diagnostics. Nanosphere may create tests for cancer, HIV and Alzheimer's
where conventional technology fails."
Says Mirkin of Moffit:
"Bill is a rare individual with extraordinary business talent
and a superb understanding of the technology."
Moffit's a 31-year
veteran of the medical device and diagnostics industry. He got
his start here at American Hospital Supply and later at Baxter.
A West Coast
invasion? Business Marketing Association President Phil
Clement welcomes Pat House, co-founder
and vice chairwoman of Siebel Systems, a customer-relationship
manager, Thursday at Harry Caray's. Watch for House, one of techdom's
more powerful and accomplished women, to talk about taking Siebel
from a small start-up to a $1.5-billion company in 10 years.
Executives' Club President Kaarina Koskenalusta
welcomes Intel CEO Craig Barrett to the podium
at the Chicago Hilton and Towers to talk about digital transformations.
A panel discussion on the role of information technology in Sarbanes-Oxley
compliance follows Barrett's presentation.
Enterprise Forum gathers Wednesday night at Garder, Carton
& Douglas to explore when to retain and when to jettison the
founder of a tech startup.
Krauss is a Chicago area tech writer and consultant.