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SoCal TechNews - Wednesday, July 14, 1999

Copyright (c) 1999 by Benjamin F. Kuo

   -- LA Ranks in High Tech Region Study

   -- Bill Gross Intent on Buying Loyalty

   -- Disney To Purchase Infoseek, Combine Operations

   -- It's the Chips, Stupid

   -- ExciteAtHome Purchases iMall

   -- Special: Interview With John Kobara,


   Upcoming Events


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LA Ranks in High Tech Region Study


Los Angeles ranked highly in a study of the Top 50 Metro High-Tech Poles by

Santa Monica based Milken Insitute, which ranks metropolitan areas based

on the output and concentration of high tech industries in the community.

According to the company, the top of the list is headed by Silicon Valley,

followed by Dallas, Los Angeles, Boston, Seattle, Washington D.C.,

Albuquerque, Chicago, New York, and Atlanta.

Bill Gross Intent on Buying Loyalty


Pasadena based Idealab's Bill Gross talks to Forbes in their feature "The

E-Gang", and talks about how his companies are buying consumer loyalty.

Disney To Purchase Infoseek, Combine Operations


Disney announced Monday that they would purchase the remainder of

Infoseek's shares, and then combine Infoseek and Disney's Buena Vista

Internet Group into a brand new company called


It's the Chips, Stupid


Interactive Week's Fast 50 Ranking came out this week, and it wasn't

a .com at the top of the list.  Irvine based chip maker Broadcom was

number one on their list of top tech companies.,4164,2290357,00.html

ExciteAtHome Purchases iMall


ExciteAtHome announced that it was buying Santa Monica based iMall for

$425 million in stock.  The company said that the acquisition would help

them provide services to small and medium companies looking to set up

shop on the Internet.



Special: Interview With John Kobara,


In what I hope will become a regular feature, I'm featuring a series of

brief interviews with local entrepreneurs, executives, and others involved

in the high tech industry here--to get their insights into the Los Angeles

high tech environment, the startup environment here in Southern California,

and their advice and suggestions to others looking to start their own high

tech ventures. Perhaps what they say will inspire you to start your own

company, join a startup, and add your name to the roster of aspiring and

successful high tech entrepreneurs who make So Cal their home.

My first interview was with John E. Kobara, President and CEO of (, a company which offers

online courses and education via the Internet across the world. Tomorrow,

we'll hear from David Cremin at Zone Ventures, and learn what kind of

opportunities they sees here in Southern California, the kinds of things Zone

is doing to promote the environment here, and the companies they're

investing in.

John Kobara:

BK: How did you get involved in

JK: I was winding up a ten year stint in a series of senior administrative

positions at UCLA, when I was approached by the founder of The Home

Education Network (THEN) Alan Arkatov, to take his company to the next

level.  THEN had acquired the worldwide exclusive and electronic online

rights to more than 4900 courses offered through UCLA Extension, the

nation's largest single - continuing higher education campus program.  Alan

was initially pursuing a videotape concept where UCLA Extension courses

would be recorded and sold.  He took the initial steps to transfer this

agreement with UCLA Extension to focus on the online rights and distribute

these fully accredited courses through the Internet.  The job of CEO and

President was a custom fit for me because of  my background in marketing,

technology, and higher education, specifically at UCLA.

BK: What are some of the challenges you faced converting into an Internet company?

JK: The challenges were mani-fold.  First, was to come up with a viable

economic, academic, marketing, customer service models for online continuing

higher education. This had not been done before.

Second, it was to help UCLA Extension, which was quite proficient at

delivering face to face education, to convert its considerable talents and

resources to an online format--An online format which would preserve if not

enhance the academic and pedagogical goals and outcomes for which they were

renowned.  For example, we focused on student retention rates and student

satisfaction.  We decided along with UCLA Extension that the student

evaluations had to be comparable to their regular classes and their

retention rates, that is the number of students who enroll who actually

complete the courses successfully, should be at least as high. I believe we

have exceeded their expectations on both counts.  No fewer than 85% of the

students who enroll complete the courses online which is higher than their

regular courses.

Third, to hire a talented and aggressive team who understand the concept of

the company. As an education company that utilizes technology, we hired

people who could contribute to the educational process through their

expertise and backgrounds and were committed to improving education.

BK: What has been the most rewarding part of your business?

JK: Education is the most powerful and transformative process in the world.


concept of linking individuals around the world who did not have the time or

the access to courses and curricula that they needed was incredibly

inspirational.  Today we have students in all fifty states and 49 countries

most of whom could not take a traditional course.  Our virtual classrooms

are global classrooms but they are diverse in many ways.  We have students

who live in rural remote parts of the world and the nation that do not live

near a university.  We also have an increasing number of students who have

disabilities and ambulatory challenges. Lastly, we have an increasing

majority of mothers and women who are trying to balance their priorities of

career, family, and education. The reward has been providing busy

professionals from around the world with the tools needed to pursue their

lifelong learning objectives anytime, anywhere, at any stage in life.



...Apparently, Netcom Systems' old place out in Chatsworth is still

up for subleasing--they apparently didn't think they'd outgrow the place

and locked in a 10 year lease agreement... CarsDirect's parking problem

apparently was solved by some other tenants of their office space, when

25 cars were towed away... Zone Ventures new fund doesn't have the tight

geographic restrictions of the original... Apparently the HUD restrictions


apply on this new fund... Juicy rumors or cool things happening? Email


Upcoming Events This Week

Full calendar at

** Am I missing your event? Tell me about it!

July 13, Glendale -- "World-Wide Year 2000 Weekend" Internet Society Los

Angeles Chapter. See

July 14, San Bernardino -- "How To Work With Investors" Software Council of

Southern California, Inland Empire Chapter. See

July 17-18, Los Angeles -- AniFest '99: celebrating the art and industry of

animation, presented by the International Animated Film Society (ASIFA) for

more information, visit:

July 17, Pasadena -- The First Eaton Canyon Workshop: A workshop in a

canyon setting for successful women technology entrepreneurs to network

with each other and with women considering becoming entrepreneurs

themselves. For more information contact Joan Horvath (818) 354-7431, email

uly 21, Santa Monica -- "What's in a Name?" Impact! Software Council of

Southern California Sales and Marketing Network. See

July 21, Irvine -- "Is the Future of E-Commerce in E-Mail?" Ben Isaacson,

executive director of the Association for Interactive Media (AIM). See


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All contents Copyright(c)1999 by Benjamin F. Kuo. This material may not

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