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Popularity Contest

Hot high-tech entrepreneurs

This story appears in the November 1999 issue of Business Start-Ups magazine.

Between them, Gary Culliss, 29, and Mike Cassidy, 36, have qualifications sure to make most reassess their own "achievements." Cassidy has won a 2,000-mile car race across Australia, competed in marathons and studied jazz piano at the esteemed Berklee School of Music. Oh, and the Harvard Business School grad co-founded and sold a company before starting Direct Hit Technologies Inc. with Harvard Law School alum Culliss. (Who, by the way, wrote code at age 12, was a registered patent agent with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, and invented the technology that would drastically reduce the pain of Internet searching.)

The innovative technology of which we speak is the Direct Hit Popularity Engine, available at partner search engines like HotBot and Lycos, or at During his patent-agent stint, Culliss realized the most efficient way to perform patent searches was to ask colleagues where they'd found needed information. The co-founder (who saved Direct Hit $50,000 in legal fees with his patent expertise) thought, Why not create an Internet search engine that would list only the most popular and relevant sites, as chosen by other users?

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