We’ve all heard of Texas’ high-tech heroes—we’re thinking, for instance, of a certain personal- computer mogul—but who will be their successors, the household names of tomorrow? To find out, we e-mailed more than three hundred of the state’s multimedia professionals and asked them to pick the industry’s heavyweights-in-waiting, men and women on the cusp of celebrity. Specifically, we asked for power players in six areas of the industry: game developers, software developers, Web designers, company builders, Internet-service providers, and 3-D artists. The only catch was that they had to be under thirty; this is, after all, a business in which youth trumps experience.
The response was overwhelming—and, thankfully, the same names cropped up over and over. That unanimity became the basis for the list that follows. As you’ll see, our selections have much more on their résumés than “hates to wear a suit.” They have big-name clients, great ideas, quantifiable talent, and—that currency of the moment—buzz. Some could soon move onto bigger and better deals and leave our state, but that’s the biz. Get acquainted with them while you can. Who knows? One could be the next Michael Dell.
CircumStance Design—Big Hand, Dallas
Tim Barber, 29 Creative Director
David Bliss, 27 Technical Director
The setup After graduating from college in 1994, they founded the experimental design studio CircumStance Design, which later merged with rival Big Hand.
What they do CD-ROMs ( James Cameron’s Titanic Explorer, Barbie Screen Styler, the sneak preview for X-Files: The Game) and Web sites (Neiman Marcus, Fox Sports Games, Amnesty International).
How they look “One of us will bleach his hair out to a bright white; the other will opt for something darker,” Barber says. “We’re a design firm with entertainment clients. We wouldn’t be doing our job if we were stodgy and uninteresting-looking.”
Luis Borromeo, 21 Internet Developer
Patrick Curry, 19 Human Interface Engineer
Dynamic duo Borromeo and Curry were sixteen and fourteen, respectively, when they started their own Web-site design company, ZFI, in 1994. At first they worked out of Curry’s bedroom at his parents house. “After trying to meet with a client there,” Curry says, “I realized that the bed was not a good conference table.” Luckily Borromeo had a driver’s license, so they began to meet clients at nearby cafes. In 1997, after the Web site they created for frogdesign won a Clio—the advertising industry’s equivalent of an Oscar—frogdesign acquired ZFI. Now their clients include Disney and Adidas.
Wham! Holy Cow! Ouch! When Borromeo is in frogdesign’s San Francisco outpost, he and Curry mount a company-wide deathmatch game of Quake: Left Coast vs. Third Coast.
Virtually There, Fort Worth
Corbin Broesche, 24 Senior Account Executive
R. Jeffrey Ireland, 24 President
Stephen P. Kinch, 25 Director of Production
Alex D. Seleny, 25 Vice President
What they do Web-site development, hosting, management, marketing, consulting—you name it. Clients include the Bass Performance Hall, La Madeleine, and Pier 1 Imports.
Will work for pizza A few months after they leased their first space in 1997, they worked out a barter deal with Mr. Gatti’s: Some of the money they earned for hosting the Mr. Gatti’s Pizza Web site went to paying their pizza tab.
They’re not Apple Don’t accuse them of spare beginnings. “We didn’t start in a garage,” Seleny says. “We started in a converted office above a garage.”
Andrew Busey 27
Way back in 1993, he created one of the earliest Internet portals. He was the first Net employee at Spyglass, the product manager for Mosaic (the first commercial Web browser), the instigator of Spyglass-Microsoft discussions that led to Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, and the founder of ichat, later renamed Acuity, whose online customer-service software is used by more than two thousand clients, including AT&T and IBM. His latest venture is an as-yet-unnamed Web-based e-commerce company set to launch in July.
A good sport An Eagle scout, he’s a lover of techno-gadgets, the stock market, and certain avocations. “I’m starting to get into golf and tennis,” he says, “but it’s slow going. Especially golf. It’s a lot harder than it looks.”
id Software, Mesquite
John Carmack 28 Co-founder, Co-owner, Lead Programmer
He got games Carmack holds high-tech’s joystick. Id pretty much created the 3-D game genre, and he’s the most accomplished technical director in the biz, the brains behind Doom, Doom II, Quake, and Quake II—games that have sold more than $100 million in the U.S. on the PC format alone. Any wonder that he was a millionaire by age 23? Of course, in this business these days, that kind of money is chump change.
What’s next? More Ferraris—he already owns three—and a new 3-D game release, Quake III Arena.
Davin Carten, 28 Creative Director
Jason Fellman, 26 President
Steve Golab, 25 Chief Financial Officer
Casey Gum, 25 Creative Director
What they do Create multimedia business-to-business communications products such as CD-ROMs for training courses. They founded the company when they were barely of legal-drinking age, which made it hard to sell themselves as experts. Not anymore; their clients include Microsoft and Dell.
Sounds like a FOX sitcom One plays guitar, another plays drums, another says he sings show tunes, and another screws up clichés (“hook, sink, and ladder”).
What’s next? They’ll double the size of their staff, to seventy, by next year.
Atension, San Antonio
Sheridan Chambers, 23 CEO
Dan Cornell, 22 Vice President, Software Development
Tyson Weihs, 23 Vice President, Operations
Untangling the Web They develop homepages, create efficient work flow, and tweak online shopping sites for small Texas businesses like Ties.com and Baseball Express (the latter credits Atension with building a site so right-on that it receives a few million hits a month). Revenues were about $330,000 in 1998, up nearly 350 percent from ‘97.
Toga! Toga! Their office is a cross between a frat house and the floor of the New York Stock Exchange; true to form, they attack projects with the enthusiasm of kids around a keg.
KTSM-TV, El Paso
Gilbert Chavarria, 27 Head 3-D