Wanted: Fast-growing, job-producing startups
September 12, 2005
BY MICHAEL KRAUSS
more gazelles. Not at the Lincoln Park Zoo. It's had enough trouble
this year. We need more gazelle companies -- fast growing, job-producing,
a gazelle company? Think of Google. Google was founded in 1998
by two Stanford University graduate students, Larry Page and Sergey
public in August 2004, Google's market cap stands at a stunning
$82.5 billion. Today you can't buy a house in Atherton, Calif.,
because the Google millionaires are spending money, boosting the
local economy, bidding up prices. Chicago should be so lucky.
So who's going
to create Chicago's Gazelles?
I say follow
the money. My money is on Matt McCall, the 41-year-old managing
director of Northfield-based Draper Fisher Jurvetson Portage.
a rarity in Chicago. He's a seed and early-stage venture capitalist
who manages a $180 million fund. He walks the halls at the University
of Illinois, Argonne National Labs and his alma mater, Northwestern
University looking for the next Google.
eye for success
well. He backed his Kellogg classmate Jamie Crouthamel with a
couple hundred thousand dollars in 1998. The total investment
grew to around $6 million.
In 2004, Crouthamel
sold Perfomics, an online marketing services firm, to DoubleClick
for a little under $70 million, according to McCall.
McCall is backing Feedburner, a local startup that builds RSS
(Real Simple Syndication) technology tools. By all accounts, Feedburner
looks like a winner, too.
Crouthamel and his colleagues are poised to build new startups
in Interactive marketing, an area where Chicago could build critical
extremely positive about this region," says McCall, who focuses
on seeding IT and life sciences ventures. "In the past two
years, we pulled all of our investment activity from a national
focus to a predominantly Midwest focus."
an enormous technology base here, reports McCall. There's also
a deep base of companies locally that buy technology.
But the real
reason is the level of federal research dollars that goes to Midwest
institutions. McCall estimates over $2 billion lands annually
at venues including the University of Illinois, the University
of Wisconsin, the University of Michigan, Northwestern, Purdue
and the University of Chicago.
money attracts the best technical thought leaders in their fields,"
says McCall. "If you actually spend the time to walk the
hallways, it is unbelievable the technology that is sitting here.
Champaign-Urbana has $100 million institutes like some campuses
to the Beckman Institute, two nanotech centers, the National Center
for Supercomputing Applications, the Siebel Center and a Department
of Energy facility.
array of resources down there," says McCall.
has to do is find the next Larry Page and Sergey Brin. They're
out there, Matt. Find 'em soon. We need the gazelles.
on the roof
drawing to a close, but FastRoot Technologies founder and CEO
Terry Howerton is making his rooftop at 117 N. Jefferson the place
Chicago's tech community meets and greets on Friday afternoons.
Tech entrepreneurs, investors and even a few tech customers show
up on Howerton's roof.
chairman of the Illinois Information Technology Association. His
goal is to bring the tech community together for fun and profit.
He wants local tech entrepreneurs to meet prospective customers
and investors. Roof sightings include tech buyers from Boeing
and the city of Chicago.
No word yet
on where the party moves when cold weather arrives.
thing has taken on a life of its own," says Howerton. "We're
definitely going to have to keep it going."
designer Jim Wicks speaks Monday at the MIT Enterprise
Forum at Gardner Carton & Douglas.
200 Motorola sociologists, psychologists, musicologists, engineers,
graphic designers and software and colors specialists.
about consumer experience, and the development of RAZR, Rokr and
other new Motorola products.
Krauss is a Chicago area tech writer and consultant.