Is Big Blue making plans for Chicago?
April 25, 2005
BY MICHAEL KRAUSS
IBM is a bellwether.
When Big Blue pre-announced lower than expected earnings on April
14, the stock market reacted with a 191-point shudder. While IBM
has moved markets down, more importantly, where Chicago is concerned,
IBM can move markets up as well. At $96 billion in revenues IBM
can have a big impact.
the appointment of Dave Carlquist, 44, as vice president/ Americas
central region -- the ranking Chicago-based IBM executive -- IBM
could become a much more visible player on the local tech scene.
The jury is still out. Carlquist has been in the job only since
December. Though he's yet to define a focused local mission, the
early signals are positive.
are impressive. The company contributed more than $3.5 million
to local schools and charities last year. Recently Carlquist hosted
an innovation roundtable bringing Claudia Fan Munce, vice president
of IBM's venture capital group to town. IBM appears to be shopping
for local tech company investments and additional business partners.
Instead of flying over Chicago to California, IBM executives are
news for Chicago's tech startups.
hasn't turned down one meeting on behalf of our startup companies,"
says Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center President David Weinstein,
who helps fledgling companies. "The fact that Dave Carlquist
was born and raised here, he's got a natural affinity for Chicago."
is turning IBM's attention to Chicago's middle market businesses.
"We have a reputation for serving clients like Motorola,
Sears and Allstate," Carlquist says. "We generate over
20 percent of our revenue in the Midwest from small and medium-size
customers. That may surprise a lot of folks. We're proud of IBM's
presence in Chicago."
points to a relationship that began in 1914 and today employs
more than 3,500 in the metro area with a payroll near $300 million.
IBM recently recommitted to downtown Chicago, taking space in
the new Hyatt Center on South Wacker Drive. IBM will occupy those
offices in September.
graduated in 1978 from Downers Grove South High School, where
he was quarterback of the football team. A strong competitor,
Carlquist recalls, "Our nemesis was East Leyden, which won
the state championship."
attended Northwestern, studying computer science. He learned to
program what are now legacy computer systems. "I can do FORTRAN,
COBOL, PL1 and APL," jokes Carlquist, who prefers his role
on the business management side to that of a systems developer.
Carlquist joined IBM. He earned his MBA at night at the University
of Chicago in 1987. Though Carlquist worked in India, Russia and
China, he's pumped about Chicago: "I'm thrilled to be in
Carlquist do if the mayor, the governor or the Civic Committee
call for IBM's volunteer support?
ask: 'Where do you need help?' I want to be customer driven,"
Carlquist says. "Nurturing the ecosystem for innovation and
entrepreneurship in Chicago, that's what I'm interested in."
phone might be ringing soon.
is around the corner, but Chicago-based Flowerpetal.com founders
Brian Crummy, Todd Crummy and Mark Benjamin are getting bouquets
from the Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center. The on-line flowers
purveyor will be named Entrepreneur of the Month for April.
and Benjamin launched their online flower venture in March 2004.
because I was ordering flowers from 1-800-flowers," Brian
Crummy says. "I was sending flowers to my girlfriend's mother
for Mother's Day. They didn't get there. I was embarrassed. The
customer service was atrocious.
we could do very well by improving customer service. That's what
we're focusing on at Flowerpetal.com."
Club President Kaarina Koskenalusta was feted at a Chicago Club
banquet last week honoring her 20 years at the club's helm. Koskenalusta
has transformed the Executives' Club into a local powerhouse.
Her focus on bringing technology leaders from the likes of Microsoft,
Verizon, Intel and Oracle to Chicago to speak is just one example
of her many local contributions. Chicago's tech community is bigger
and better to-day thanks to Koskenalusta's efforts.
Michael Krauss is a Chicago area tech writer and consultant.