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Inter@ctive WeekMarch 30, 1998

25 Unsung Heroes Of The Net

They're the kinds of folks you never think about. The ones who just would not accept the conventional notions about accessing the Internet by computer - that women don't use computers, that no one will look at ads on-screen, that investors won't trade securities online. Or who just decided using the Net could be made easier and more effective, for business or personal use.

For its 1998 collection of 25 unsung heroes of the Net, Inter@ctive Week rounded up a diverse set of individuals whose efforts have significantly improved the network of networks, through improvements in its hardware and software, services and content. And whose efforts have largely gone unrecognized amid the boom in Net interest.

  1. Steve Ariana
    Vice President of Architecture and Strategy, Charles Schwab & Co. Inc.

    If Ariana is an unsung hero of the Net, he prefers it that way. Ariana, 47, bristles at the idea that his contributions to making online trading one of the major proof points of the viability of electronic commerce are more valuable than those of any other person on Schwab's 12-member Web team. Like it or not, though, under Ariana's direction, Schwab ( has revolutionized the trading industry and elevated online transactions to nearly half of the company's overall business. Not many Web businesses can claim that.

  2. Eli Barkat
    Chief Executive Officer, BackWeb Technologies Inc.

    A former Israeli paratrooper, Barkat, 34, is a determined, unapologetic champion of push technology. Only he is adroitly repositioning it as a key component of "knowledge management distribution" - getting the right information to the right desktop, such as news, competitive analyses, software updates, company directories and data from the corporate database. Barkat raised $19 million behind BackWeb's ( technology, dubbed Infocenter 4.0, in December 1997 and enhanced it with management controls over what gets pushed when to end users, such as salespeople. Now, he says, you can "use IT [information technology] to generate growth."

  3. Steven M. Bellovin
    Researcher, AT&T Labs Research

    Next time you fire up your Web server, just remember who made it possible.

    Back in the late '80s, AT&T Researcher Bellovin, 47, invented the first firewall along with colleague William Cheswick. They did the programming for a simple reason: They were being hacked more often than AT&T Corp. ( could stand.

    If they or AT&T had been so inclined, they could have locked down a series of patents and started their own firewall business. But they didn't.

    Instead, Bellovin spent a lot of time at computing conferences showing others how they, too, could keep the bad guys away. By publishing the results of his work, Bellovin has created thousands of jobs and millions of dollars in market capitalization where before there was none.

  4. Jim Breyer
    Managing Partner, Accel Partners

    Breyer spurred Accel's late 1997 move into new space along the main drag of Palo Alto, Calif. That was a conscious effort to separate the firm from Sand Hill Road, the heart of the Silicon Valley venture capital community just two miles away. Breyer, 36, is responsible for Accel's ( involvement in more than a dozen companies that have completed public offerings or successful mergers, including Centillion (acquired by Bay Networks Inc.), Centrum (bought by 3Com Corp.), Collabra (now part of Netscape Communications Corp.), Macromedia Inc., RealNetworks Inc., Spectrum Holobyte Inc. and Synopsys Inc. Current private investments include two online education and training companies, Academic Systems and Lightspan Partnership, as well as eight other companies, including AlphaBlox, a developer of Web-based enterprise information analysis tools; security provider CyberSafe Corp.; and online games developer Mpath Interactive Inc.

  5. David H. Crocker
    Principal, Brandenburg Consulting

    E-mail - the killer app - never would have become so enormous without the intuitive comfort and ease of use produced by the familiar memo-style heading. Obvious in retrospect, establishment of this format was hardly preordained. It happened largely because of Crocker.

    He's toiled in the messaging vineyards for more than half his life, since networked e-mail's early '70s dawn. "I've been tenacious," he says, "becoming venerable just by surviving." The work unites interests that impelled him to psychology, communication and computer-science degrees.

    Crocker, 48, co-wrote the first Internet standard, a request for comments covering e-mail headings that is known in current form as RFC 822. Later he served as MCI Mail's principal architect and co-founded the Internet Mail Consortium trade association. At Brandenburg (, Crocker is focusing on Internet transmission of faxes and electronic forms. He also chairs Silicon Valley-Public Access Link, a nonprofit Internet provider run by volunteers.

  6. James Crowe
    Chairman, Level 3 Communications Inc.

    Crowe a Net hero? His absence from the internetworking scene after an acrimonious departure from WorldCom Inc. in June 1997 relegated him to the Internet Ancient History file - at least for a few months. Crowe, 48, blasted back on the scene in January when he re-emerged as chief executive officer of Level 3 Communications (, a company with plans to build an international Internet Protocol (lP)-based telephone network with $2.5 billion in capital from Peter Kiewit Sons' Inc. Crowe has positioned himself once again to play the spoiler, a role he perfected launching and leading MFS Communications Co. Inc. before it was acquired by WorldCom.

    Crowe plans to follow the same strategy of local-loop building MFS made famous, but this time the goal is to offer complete bundled services - from IP telephony to fax to wholesale to retail Internet access.

    "There's nobody that has our capitalization and business plan today," Crowe says.

  7. Mary Furlong
    Founder and Chairman, Third Age Media Inc.

    Furlong scorns the image of older adults as being ignorant or even afraid of the Internet. "There are millions of older people online," she says. "They have the time and the money. What they didn't have was a place to go that was of interest to them." Furlong, 49, is attempting to fill that void and capitalize on the opportunity, through her company, Third Age ( On the Web, Third Age offers news, advice, forums and chats aimed at the over-50 audience, with features on topics ranging from travel and technology to healthy living, sex and love. The mix has attracted a great number of fans, alliances with search engines and investors. Last fall, U S West Inc. acquired a 20 percent stake in the company for $9.4 million. Prior to launching Third Age, Furlong founded SeniorNet, a nonprofit group dedicated to educating older adults about computer technology. That experience, Forrester Research Inc. media analyst Chris Charron says, helped Furlong gain tremendous insights into how to reach what could be the holy grail of consumers.

  8. Dr. Elon Ganor
    Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, VocalTec Communications Ltd.

    Sure, everybody and his Ma Bell talks up Internet telephony - now. But it's barely months since the technology was widely derided as a hobbyist fad, like citizens band radio. Ganor, 47, bravely hoisted the banner three years ago - eons in Net time - and has waved it proudly since. The Israeli physician and investor started out as a PC hobbyist, but by 1989, when he co-founded VocalTec (, Ganor definitely was tech-savvy. Now that the big guys have come around, he feels vindicated and ready to play. "I feel honored and happy that our vision is being adopted by a huge industry out there," he says.

  9. Martin Hellman, Whitfield Diffie
    Encryption Engineers

    In 1975, Stanford University assistant professor Hellman, 29, and research assistant Diffie, 31, started a three-year collaboration to solve a problem that had, up to that point, eluded computer science researchers: how to create secure, encrypted messages that didn't risk exposure as the key to unlock the encryption was transmitted over the network. In their paper, "New Directions in Cryptography," published in November 1976 in the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers ( journal, Transactions on Information Theory, Hellman and Diffie proposed that each recipient of encrypted messages maintain a public key, published to the world, and a private key that remained in the sole possession of its owner. The public key-private key approach won quick acceptance and became the foundation for security systems now used in electronic commerce over the Internet. Hellman continued teaching at Stanford, while Diffie became manager of Secure Systems Research at Northern Telecom Inc. ( Diffie currently works on security issues as a distinguished engineer at Sun Microsystems Inc. (

  10. Van Jacobson
    Network Research Group Leader, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

    Among the achievements easily cited for this prodigious 47-year-old Net researcher: an algorithm for controlling congestion in the Transport Control Protocol. This is "one of the fundamental contributions that allows the Internet to function at all," says colleague Sally Floyd. Other Jacobson feats: co-developer of MBone audio and video technology for Internet broadcasts, such as business meetings, concerts and classes; and, with Floyd, queue-management and router-scheduling algorithms, to reduce network delays and set priorities for data-packet transmission, respectively.

    "Our goal," reclusive, work-focused Jacobson said last year, "is to supply whatever research and tools are necessary to ensure everyone gets [and stays] connected."

  11. Martin J. Kaplan
    Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, Sprint Corp.

    Kaplan could shut down parties announcing his big accomplishment: bringing Dense Wave Division Multiplexing, plus four-fiber, bidirectional, line-switched ring Synchronous Optical Network, to Sprint (

    Years ago, Kaplan, 48, anticipated businesses' previously unimagined demands for reliability and bandwidth. He cajoled vendors into building fiber rings that monitored and rerouted data themselves, transforming interruptions from disasters to trivial events shorter than blinks. Then Kaplan pushed others to increase capacity electronically - first sixteenfold, now fortyfold, soon to eightyfold - using multiplexing. The technologies have made his network the envy of world telecommunications.

  12. Matt Korn
    Senior Vice President, Network Operations, America Online Inc.

    Korn, 38, says he takes pride in "bringing the power and riches of the Internet and online communications to Main Street." Starting in graduate school at the University of Wisconsin while an IBM Corp. employee, Korn worked with Internet protocols and was part of the IBM ( team building the National Science Foundation's Internet backbone in 1987.

    Today he leads "500 of the best and brightest network and systems professionals doing the real work," he says, which means keeping more than 670,000 concurrent AOL ( customers online at any one moment.

    What's next? "There are still 70 million households we don't have online," Korn says.

  13. Phil Lawlor
    Chief Executive Officer, Apex Global Internet Service Inc.

    Some will object to Lawlor's inclusion on this list. So be it. The slightly mysterious CEO is, in fact, an anti-hero. He spent most of last year on the griddle of public opinion, vilified for allowing spammers on his network (

    Ceaseless criticism and attacks on his network finally led Lawlor, 38, to boot all unsolicited commercial e-mailers from his pipes last fall. The move dealt a potential death blow to megaspammers Cyber Promotions Inc. and Quantum Communications Inc., which haven't been able to operate since.

  14. Rich LeFurgy
    Senior Vice President of Advertising, ABCNews/ESPN Internet Ventures; Chairman, Internet Advertising Bureau

    LeFurgy's influence on the Web media business extends far beyond his day job developing ad revenue for ABCNews/ESPN Internet Ventures.

    The 41-year-old executive has played a major role as the chairman of the increasingly influential Internet Advertising Bureau ( in helping nurture the nascent online advertising industry.

    LeFurgy has been a driving force in a string of initiatives backed by the industry group, which has helped set standard banner sizes that make it easier for marketers to design ads that can be placed Webwide. The IAB, under LeFurgy's guidance, also has taken a leading role with the Coopers & Lybrand LLP ( accounting firm in measuring online advertising spending.

    In the past year, the group published studies that rate the effectiveness of online advertising and launched a Webwide program that encourages Internet publishers to set aside 5 percent of their advertising inventory for public service announcements.

  15. Mark Leighton-Fisher
    Engineer, Thomson Consumer Electronics Inc.

    When Yahoo! Inc. was still a college project of two kids at Stanford University, before Netscape Communications Corp. was incorporated and half a dozen trends before knowledge management became the buzz phrase of the season, Leighton-Fisher, 41, knew what he wanted.

    "We needed a system where anyone on our intranet could search and find a solution to a similar problem that another engineer had already solved," says the engineer at Thomson Consumer Electronics (

    The Corporate Technical Memory (CTM) project he helped create in December 1993 used the Wide Area Information Server, an early freeware search engine; a freeware browser; and scripts hand-written in PERL to do the job. The pioneering project has been running, but almost unnoticed, for four years, because it lacked management backing to get engineers to put their solutions into the system.

    Now that one of Leighton-Fisher's fellow engineers has risen to vice president, the engineers are being told to use it, and the CTM can finally become what Leighton-Fisher envisioned: an online shortcut to solve a problem.

  16. Mike McQuary
    Chief Operating Officer, MindSpring Enterprises Inc.

    McQuary still answers his own phone. That says volumes about the laid-back manager who gets kudos for making MindSpring ( the first profitable publicly held consumer Internet provider in history.

    In the fourth quarter of 1997, the company posted net earnings of $498,000, or 6 cents per share.

    McQuary, 38, has successfully fostered a comfortable work culture in which employees produce big-time, delivering first-rate Internet connectivity. And McQuary isn't a Net geek. He came to MindSpring in 1995 after an 11-year stint with Mobil Chemical Co.

  17. Sherry Miller
    Founder, SherryArt

    Though at 58 she seems too young for the moniker, Miller likes to jokingly describe herself as the "oldest woman on the Web."

    That's because, says the writer, artist and Internet consultant, she remembers that just six years ago there were few women to be found on the various bulletin board services; and, "if you joined America Online [Inc.] and your screen name showed you were a woman, you'd get all this mail."

    Those experiences led Miller to create SherryArt (, a site for women where "art and technology meet, and, when they don't, humor steps in to do the job." Visitors there will find an eclectic mix of art, information and commentary.

    Now that women are no longer a Web minority, Miller has started championing another under-represented group: seniors. Her goal: "to get seniors recognized as an important audience on the Web, and advertisers to understand this is a tremendous demographic with lots of time and money."

  18. Peter G. Neumann
    Principal Scientist, Computer Science Laboratory, SRI International

    Far more than a narrow specialist, Neumann is truly an éminence grise of the Net.

    His technical achievements alone would be enough to win him a place in computing's hall of fame. Among other things, Neumann spent time at Bell Labs in the 1960s developing Multics, the first widely used operating system to use Web-style dynamic linking.

    But greater by far has been his tireless devotion to illuminating the real-world consequences of over-reliance on technology through advisory roles on numerous congressional panels, government agencies and his RISKS forum (comp.risks on Usenet) - one of the few places where technology gurus consistently gather to talk about the downside of their jobs.

    Neumann, 65, received the ACM Outstanding Contribution Award in 1992, the Electronic Freedom Foundation Pioneer Award in 1996 and the ACM SIGSOFT Outstanding Contribution Award in 1997.

  19. Tim O'Reilly
    Founder, O'Reilly and Associates

    "Find interesting work for interesting people," is the business model that O'Reilly, 43, used to publish the books for the freeware that built the Internet.

    Once a technical writing and consulting firm, O'Reilly and Associates ( documented Apache, BIND, PERL and SendMail when no other decent documentation existed. Global News Navigator "became the first commercial Internet site, and our direct-mail piece landed at the NCSA [National Center for Supercomputing Applications], prompting them to start on the Mosaic Web browser," he says.

  20. Ellen Pack
    Vice President of Product Development,

    Pack laughs upon hearing she's an "unsung" hero of the Internet. As co-founder of Wire Networks Inc. - recently rechristened ( - she's been one of the most vocal advocates in getting women online and made it a mission to create a place women could call their own. "When I first started, people would tell me I was crazy, that women don't use computers." Six years later, Pack, 35, is singing a happy tune: Women now make up nearly 50 percent of the Web's audience, and's holdings - Women's Wire, Beatrice's Web Guide and Prevention's Healthy Ideas - are premier destinations.

  21. David Perry
    President, Chemdex Inc.

    Chemdex ( began as a theory in search of an application. A Harvard Business School M.B.A. student, the 30-year-old Perry started with the premise that a niche industry that had fragmented buyers and sellers, where price and detailed product information was hard to find, would be ideal to unify with an online market on the Web. Database searches across multiple vendors' online catalogs could benefit the buyers, who had been encumbered with laborious searches through printed catalogs, and the sellers, who often couldn't get their product information into the hands of their prospective customers.

    After researching and rejecting architectural supplies (fragmented on both the buyer and seller sides, but the products were too difficult to describe easily) and other industries, Perry decided to settle on research chemicals. A start-up that's still in beta, Chemdex has already landed a big customer, Genentech Corp., a major biotech firm, and is in talks with others.

  22. John Quarterman
    President, Matrix Information and Directory Service Inc.

    If you want to know the number of Web servers in Borneo or the U.S. county with the largest number of Internet hosts (San Mateo, Calif.), there's only one man to call - Quarterman. As president of the Matrix Information and Directory Service (, Quarterman, 43, is to Net demographics what The Gallup Organization is to opinion polls.

    Although his name may be relatively unknown, Quarterman's extensive charts, maps and surveys, which plot the physical growth of the Internet, are everyday items at AT&T Corp., MCI Communications Corp., Stanford University and other MIDS clients.

  23. Linus Torvalds
    Software Engineer, Transmeta Corp.

    At 21, Torvalds created the kernel of the Linux operating system, a stripped-down version of Unix, and released it to a Usenet discussion group in 1991. The release struck a chord, and modifications and patches started pouring into the University of Helsinki, Finland, where Torvalds was working on a master's degree.

    Torvalds, now 28, integrated patches into a more complete operating system, whose source code remained free, upgraded by more than 100 volunteers over the Internet - one of the first operating systems developed this way.

    Linux has grown as a desktop system and Web server to 3 million to 5 million users, particularly in Asia, Eastern Europe and other parts of the world that don't want to - or simply cannot - pay Microsoft Corp. prices.

    And Torvalds, who has gone to work for a Santa Clara, Calif., start-up, Transmeta, a very large integrated circuit designer, says he will continue to lead the further development of the operating system.

  24. Deborah Triant
    President and Chief Executive Officer, Check Point Software Technologies Inc.

    As the public face behind the American subsidiary of an Israeli firewall and security company, Triant has managed to do what few other foreign firms have done on U.S. soil - chart a course to become the market leader. Analysts say Triant has been successful because she realized early on that great technology wasn't enough, and that market share could be won only through building a strong channel network. "She's taken a small but leading-edge start-up and turned Check Point into the 800-pound gorilla of the security industry," says Giga Information Group Inc. analyst Ira Machefsky. Triant, who gained her marketing savvy at Adobe Systems Inc., faces increased competition from Network Associates Inc., which recently bought No. 2 firewall vendor Trusted Information Systems Inc., and from the likes of Microsoft Corp. and Sun Microsystems Inc., which are adding security to their operating system software.

    Triant remains unfazed. "The way I see it, we have the advantage because all the other companies are playing catch-up," the 48-year-old Check Point ( CEO says.

  25. Paul Vixie
    Founder, Vixie Enterprises Inc.

    Your business may not thrive with Vixie Enterprises ( around, but to hundreds of Internet service providers large and small, it is a godsend. Over the past year or so, Vixie has put together a list of 100 "net blocks" - Internet addresses that backbone operators should boycott if they want to keep their networks free of the annoying commercial e-mail most people call spam. By simply blocking mail coming from those bad actors, Internet service providers can do a great deal to cut down on the volume of junk mail that crosses their networks.

    What Vixie, the man, does raises the anger of spammers, and that's just fine by him - the 34-year-old wants a lawsuit to settle the issue once and for all.

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Copyright (c) 1998 Ziff Davis, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Ziff Davis, Inc. is prohibited. Inter@ctive Week and the Inter@ctive Week logo are trademarks of Ziff Davis, Inc.

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