Recycling the Wealth

Many big companies lose talent to the dot-com boom. Microsoft Corp. has a double challenge – its refugees have money to fund other refugees.

The latest example is digiMine (, a Seattle start-up formed by some of Microsoft’s biggest brains in database technology. The company’s financial backers include Pete Higgins, a former group vice president at Microsoft who now runs a Seattle venture firm called Second Avenue Partners, and Sam Jadallah, a former Microsoft vice president who is now a managing director at Internet Capital Group Inc. (he is investing on his own behalf in this case).

They and other investors were quick to whip out their checkbooks when word spread about the plans of Usama Fayyad, a pioneer in data-mining technology who resigned from Microsoft only about three weeks ago.

“The minute I stepped outside we held a meeting with investors, and a lot more people attended it than were supposed to,” Mr. Fayyad says. “It turned into a huge bidding war.”

The company, which raised about $ million, wants to help Web companies sift through the huge volume of user data they generate. Many Web sites can’t afford to buy and customize data-mining programs, so digiMine plans to operate a Service that can take data from Web firms and provide detailed customer information for a subscription fee.

The company’s other co-founders are Bassel Ojjeh and Nick Besbeas, who helped develop data warehouses and marketing-analysis systems from Microsoft’s MSN Services. “I knew their track record,” Mr. Jadallah said. “This was one of the quickest decisions I have had to make.”

To avoid conflict with their former employer, Messers, Jadallah and Higgins don’t solicit potential entrepreneurs while they are still are still at Microsoft. Neither does Ingnition Corp., a high-profile Bellevue, Wash. Investment firm founded by eight former Microsoft executives, says Brad Silverberg, one of the founders. But once employees walk out, they are fair game.

By: Don Clark

Source: The Wall Street Journal


Leave a Reply