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June 4th - Lycos founder, Bob Davis, speaks at MAF fund raiser for Mt. Horeb Lodge

A big "well-done" goes to Jim St. Pierre and the Masonic Angels of Mount Horeb Lodge in Dennis, MA for their successful fund-raising breakfast. The speaker for the June 4th event was Bob Davis, founder of Lycos and a true visionary in the so-called "new economy". The event was well-attended by the local "techie" community and raised significant new revenue for the Mount Horeb Lodge Masonic Angel Fund.

 

Bob Davis - Terra Networks

Speed is life, says Lycos founder


By JACK PERRY
STAFF WRITER CAPE COD TIMES

WEST DENNIS - Lycos founder Bob Davis knows all about success. He sold his Internet portal company for $5.4 billion last year to Terra Networks.

Davis, who owns a home in Yarmouth, also knows all about setbacks and failures. He lost his mother when he was 13; his father at 20.

At 22, he was rejected for his dream job as a salesman with IBM.

And, later, Lycos was three weeks away from running out of cash when the company made its initial public offering.

Perseverance does pay off, Davis said yesterday during a fund-raiser for the Masonic Angel Foundation Inc. at Christine's Restaurant.

"The life of an entrepreneur is a life of failures, setbacks and challenges," he said.

Davis, who grew up in Dorchester and worked his way through Northeastern University after his father's death, believes persistence determines the difference between success and failure, between winners and losers.

"In a competitive world, you and you alone make the decision to let up," he said.

Lycos suffered other setbacks. Days before the company's IPO, the Internet browser, Netscape, told Lycos it would bill the company $5 million annually for a link that it had been providing for free.

Since 50 percent of Lycos's traffic came through Netscape, the company could not ignore the request. The development delayed the Lycos IPO for several days. The company had to develop a new financial model, and Davis had to tell potential investors of the company's new financial picture.

Nevertheless, the IPO was a success, raising more than $40 million.

More recently, when the deal with Terra Networks was pending, the CEO of Terra's parent company, Telefonica, was forced to step down. That nearly killed the merger.

Davis's working theme at Lycos: "If you let up, you lose."

Davis, 44, expands on that and other business topics in his book, "Speed is Life: Street Smart Lessons from the Front Lines of Business" (Doubleday, $24.95). Davis, who sold and signed copies after the talk, is contributing his profits from the book to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

The desire to help children brought Davis and the Masons together, said Jim St. Pierre, past master of the Mount Horeb Lodge in South Dennis. The foundation purchases coats, sneakers, school supplies and other items for children in need. After the idea started on Cape Cod three years ago, 25 Masonic chapters across the country now have angel funds.

Davis is a parent himself. "I have a 13-year-old who knows more about his computer and more about the Internet than I do," he said.

Davis now serves as vice chairman for Terra Lycos and is not active in the day-to-day operation of the company. He is a partner in the Boston venture capital firm Highland Capital Partners, which manages $1.5 billion in venture capital.

Davis doesn't expect to do that for long, though. He wants to start another company, although he declined to provide details after the talk.

When he does start his next venture, expect the company to move fast and provide good customer service, two themes Davis emphasized yesterday.

In technology, the first product on the market usually wins the customers as companies such as E-Bay, Amazon.com and Yahoo! have proven. Speed is life, especially in the technology business, he said.

"By being first, before you know it, you own the marketplace."