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Once Upon A Time

You're Not Alone, Mickey

By Amanda C. Kooser

Online grocer/drugstore/delivery service Webvan Group Inc. ( has one. Maintenance supply e-shop has one. So do consulting service provider Enterprise Networking Systems (, e-business systems company Scient Corp. (, online education site and Internet consulting firm Viant Corp. (

All these tech start-ups have lured executives to their employee roster--not under-21 whiz kids, but experienced, respected corporate officers who were willing to jump the Fortune 500 ship. It's not a full-scale bail, but these and many other execs are starting to think small, all for the promise of stock options and the opportunity to be on the cutting edge.

Viant is a prime example. Its COO, Ben Levitan, left his position as CEO of global services firm james martin + co to join the company. "I was attracted by the opportunity to work for a company that's committed to innovation, as well as to building the premium brand in the industry," Levitan explains.

Another particularly noteworthy transfer occurred late last year when George Shaheen, who was then CEO of Andersen Consulting, jumped from that company to head up, after spending nearly 30 years at Andersen.

This sort of company-hopping is good news for small tech businesses, which, armed with the powerful lures of potential and innovation, suddenly find themselves able to compete with Fortune 500 conglomerates in the hiring arena.

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This article was originally published in the February 2000 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Once Upon A Time.

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