Vice President for Strategy / Citrix Systems, Fort Lauderdale
Music: Gruen-Kennedy had a band in college but dropped music as a career. "I couldn't find anybody over 40 I wanted to be like."
Accolades: NetworkWorld magazine named Gruen-Kennedy one of the "25 Most Powerful People in Networking."
Far-afield: Gruen-Kennedy designed electoral balloting ASP architecture for the Stockholm, Sweden-based International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance, a group that helps countries adopt democratic government.
Traver Gruen-Kennedy, apostle, had his conversion experience as a consultant in the mid-1990s. His epiphany: Customers should subscribe to software, not buy it, and compute over the internet. It would save on installation hassle, upfront costs and upgrades. Friends steered Gruen-Kennedy to Ed Iacobucci, founder of Fort Lauderdale's Citrix Systems, whose server software lets people run any type of program -- no matter what kind of computer they have. In 1998, Iacobucci annointed Gruen-Kennedy vice president for strategy and dispatched him on the first of 36 missions around the world to win "application service provider" (ASP) converts.
A Chicago native raised in Switzerland, Gruen-Kennedy received his degree in music (classical voice) at Bowdoin College and then opened a stereo store that sold the Apple II. From there, it was a short hop to computer consulting.
By the end of 1998, Gruen-Kennedy had ASP trials under way on six continents. The next year he co-founded the ASP industry consortium. That's how he came to be called -- with some exaggeration -- "the father of the ASP industry."
It's no overstatement to say Citrix's pushing ASP has attracted a cluster of ASP companies and their jobs to south Florida. The domestic ASP industry likely will double this year to $3 billion, says Ben Pring, principal analyst with the Gartner Group in Lowell, Mass. But that's still a drop in the computing bucket.
"Emerging industries don't happen overnight," says true-believer Gruen-Kennedy, 49. "A year from now, it's going to start to feel increasingly mainstream."
Mobile Monitoring: Making a Way
President, COO / Applied Digital Solutions, Palm Beach
A favorite saying: "We will either find a way or make one" -- Carthaginian General Hannibal, who invaded Italy in 218 B.C.
Family: Husband, Luico Hopper, jazz musician; daughter, Nathalie, 16.
Quote: "I don't accept 'no' when I set goals."
When Mercedes Walton joined Applied Digital Solutions in Palm Beach in January as president, she became the leader in deploying what she sees as a revolutionary monitoring device. She also became one of the most high-ranking African-American women at a publicly traded company in Florida.
Raised by working-class parents in the Bronx who encouraged her to think Ivy League, she earned a psychology degree from Smith College by age 20 and a master's degree in education from Harvard a year later. She also holds a master's in technology management from MIT. Her business education came in 24 years at AT&T -- including as corporate strategy and business development vice president.
She expects to take Applied past $1 billion in revenues -- from $135 million in 2000. The vehicle: Digital Angel, a monitor that can fit in a wristwatch.
Walton, 46, says it can track latch-key kids, the elderly, cargo, pets, livestock and -- in what Walton says is the "most exciting" use -- allows "human body networking" such as monitoring diabetics' glucose levels and detecting undiagnosed heart disease. It made Fortune's "Cool Product" list.
Not so cool: Applied Digital's under-$1 stock price. The monitor market is large, says analyst Craig Mathias of Farpoint Group in Ashland, Mass., but has lots of contenders. "It's pretty difficult at this point to say who's going to be successful."
For Walton, it's easy. Digital Angel "will affect the 21st century in far-reaching ways. To be a part of that is a joy."
CEO / Tantivy Communications, Melbourne
Impressed by: Iomega's removable 40 MB disk.
Family: Glo, his wife of 25 years; daughters, Brooks, 23, and Megan, 16.
Watch for: The results of a Tantivy trial begun in July in Korea.
How's this for a boast? By the end of 2003, Tantivy Communications' method for delivering broadband through the air will be in every type of internet-accessible appliance -- computers, laptops, PDAs, MP3 players and digital cameras, says CEO Randy Roberson. "We have a wonderful, wonderful opportunity," Roberson exults. "We have our challenges, but they don't in any way come close to overshadowing the opportunity."
Venture capitalists who agree have pumped $72.2 million into the 4-year-old Melbourne company, which takes its name from an obscure word for a gallop. Plenty of companies want to trot out broadband internet access that's wireless and portable, especially because land lines have proven so costly to install. Roberson says Tantivy's edge is that its low-cost method allows service providers like cell phone companies to recoup their investment in a few years while charging customers under $40 a month.
Customers will like the connection speeds -- a minimum of 368 kbps downloads and much faster the closer a customer is to a cell tower. Even so, Tantivy travels a "tough road," says Forrester Research's Charlie Golvin. It will have to convince carriers, who have placed their technology bets elsewhere, to invest in order to use its technology. "Unless it's so competitively priced for carriers, I think they have a very challenging way ahead," Golvin says.
Roberson, 46, was brought to Tantivy in 1999 to take over from founders Ronald Carney, Carlo Amalfitano and Thomas Gorsuch. (They remain, respectively, chairman, vice president of systems engineering and vice president of product development.) A Kentucky native, Roberson worked at IBM, AT&T, Motorola and General Instrument on turnarounds and overseeing the commercialization of technology breakthroughs. "This by far is the largest one," Roberson says. Tantivy "is going to change the way everyone does business, does entertainment, does the internet."
Founder / OmniCluster Technologies, Boca Raton
Christopher Fleck, a 20-year IBMer whose job was commercializing technology, thought often of going out on his own. His eureka moment came as he looked at a one-page concept design. "I said, 'I want it and know I can sell it. I need to meet the folks who developed it.' " The design was for a card -- a full-function mini-motherboard -- that boosts a server's capacity with only a small energy requirement. He convinced IBM to let him take it in return for a minority stake in OmniCluster Technologies, the Boca Raton company he founded last year.
OmniCluster's product costs $600 compared to $1,000 for servers -- plus the savings on power, facility space and air-conditioning. (Computer rooms are pricey real estate.) In a pitch that's no doubt catchy to a tech buyer, Fleck says, "We give you the ability to expand your capacity with zero rack space and only 10 watts."
OmniCluster, nurtured at Boca Raton accelerator Cenetec, recently raised $10 million from investors through January's Florida Venture Forum conference in Boca ["Showtime!," Page 52]. The technology's inventor, Chet Heath, holder of 18 patents, is OmniCluster's chief technology officer.
Fleck, 43, says of entrepreneurial independence: "It is consuming."