Friday, September 26, 2003

Late Flashes

As the work week winds to a close this afternoon, I got a couple of jolts via email that seem noteworthy.

I wrote recently about John Carroll and its development/alumni office, reflecting on the time I spent there a decade ago. I didn't want to spoil the clarity of those good memories by mentioning the fact that I thought some directions in which the school has more recently been embarking are wrong. Too much fundraising (a capital campaign that has successfully raised in excess of $100 million) has, in my view, threatened the very underpinning of the school's soul. There's a new physical manifestation of that, an overly gigantic new Dolan Center building set down as if force of nature on what used to be the long-inviolable front lawn (which harkened back to the urban-pastoral ideal that Shaker Heights developers, the Van Sweringen brothers, were aiming for when they originally lured John Carroll to move its campus from the near west side as something of a founding anchor tenant in their grand urban design experiment). But what the hell: every alum of every university in the world grumbles about how their old school doesn't stay the same. And as I took pains to note in a long piece I wrote earlier in the year for the JCU Magazine, I'm a huge fan of what's actually going to be going on in that building: unique and unprecedented (for JCU) collaborations which will benefit faculty, students and even the region.

Anyway, I just got word a couple hours ago that the man who raised much of this money, former Harvard guy Peter Anagnastos (the successor of my former boss Paul Kantz), has just stepped down, for a job at Hawken. Which will of course set off a storm of speculation in some circles over the issue of whether or not that was voluntary. The fact that he's leaving for a seemingly far lesser post at little Hawken School and that he had riled the faculty enormously with his collaborative with industry suggests that he may have been sacked; on the other hand, it must be pointed out that he's a renaissance man (with plans to write and teach) who marches to his own drummer, and thus he may well have wanted to get off the endless fundraising treadmill, especially now that 96% of the current capital campaign goal has been raised. He came to JCU seven years ago with the goal of raising funds to rehab the school's science center, and quickly realized it would be easier to raise the money for a new one. Having seen it through to its recent formal opening, he's now off to other pursuits. We wish him well.

Second bit of news:, the online namesake of a splendid old Cleveland paper that closed in June 1982 after more than a century in business, and which is good enough to prominently link to Working With Words (as well as Cool Cleveland and Mark Geyman's Ohio Biz), has just become a strategic partner with the Little Engine That Could: Careerboard, which now has quite a list of partners. The site will carry a co-branded job search section, not unlike the one Careerboard has with Crain's. The alliance will certainly help raise the profile of Dave Goebel's intriguing experiment on several levels. It will drive traffic, of course (and while Careerboard and call the latter "Northeast Ohio's fastest growing online news daily," the very phrasing of that seems funny. I suppose it's meant as a dig at, but it's pretty easy to go from zero to high growth than it is to add eyeballs at a high rate when you're already Ohio's most heavily-visited site, as is). But just being in Careerboard's ecology will help. President Peter Tuttle, a veteran of the offline search business, has shrewdly stuck to his knitting, drawing back from aggressive national growth plans during the go-go years and into a more measured, and stunningly successful, war of attrition in a few selected markets. His savvy and patient accumulation of good partners has helped offset the significant advantages of bigger, richer and cross-promoted's jobs section.

As for Goebel, it doesn't hurt that he's a veteran of another local tech success story, Flashline, and that he's currently associated (in a sales capacity) with yet another growing Cleveland tech legend, Pre-Emptive Solutions, based in Euclid, which is growing like widlfire operating as a mosquito on the back of partner Microsoft's elephant. The company, begun as a java specialist, has recently gotten on the .Net wagon, and Microsoft has opened the kimono nicely (Bill Gates himself stopped by their booth earlier this year for this photo-op worth millions). Co-founder Gabe Torok, a CSU grad, was regaling all comers at last night's NEOSA function, and well he should. As a developer of security code that prevents reverse engineering, it's got the post-9/11 wind at its back, if Gates & Co. aren't enough.

But back to Goebel. You may recall that the PD's Chris Seper briefly noted the site's progress back in August (before he took paternity leave), writing that " has drawn interest from a smattering of local minds eager to create a business model for it. John Ettore, a local free-lance writer active in technology matters, has tried to persuade Goebel to turn the Web site into an online Cleveland portal for Web loggers and online journalists." We'll see about that. But in the meantime, let's just say that we wish Dave continued good luck. Here's hoping that his budding portal continues to be populated by solid local writing and other web resources.


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