Too Sexy

Omar Wasou, 29

At the very least, one hopes for minimal interruptions when this mesmerizing baritone opens his mouth to speak. The dreadlocked cybersuperior by the name of Omar Wasow, with his warm, chestnut eyes and charming smile, would cause just about anyone to blush. But what's cool is that he doesn't know it.

Since childhood, this self-proclaimed computer geek has been interested in the way technology has allowed people to network and relate. Seizing the opportunity to create something more social than informational as well as amass the previously overlooked African American online community, Wasow constructed BlackPlanet.comin New York City in September 1999. Says Wasow, a Stanford University grad, "Our core model is to put the power in the hands of our members."

And when it comes to managing his talented staff, Wasow doesn't pretend he's figured it all out. He simply incorporates what comes naturally. "I am really interested in making sure that people are learning a lot when they are working with me," he says.

As if creating one of the fastest-growing community portals weren't enough, Wasow also implements a strategy he calls viral philanthropy through which Blackplanet offers donations to a member's nonprofit organization of choice with every new recruit.

It's such passion for reform and societal enrichment that define Start-Ups' "sexy" standards.

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This article was originally published in the October 2000 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Too Sexy.

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