Categotry Archives: Business

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Phil Goldman

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Categories: Business, Scientists

Phil Goldman, the CEO of Mailblocks and the co-founder of WebTV, died on Dec. 24. Cause of death was not released. He was 39.
In 1986, Goldman graduated at the top of his class with a degree in electrical engineering and computer science from Princeton University. An engineer who worked for Apple Computer and Microsoft Corp., Goldman held 19 U.S. patents, including #6,141,693, which involved the design of an apparatus for extracting digital data from a video stream for display on a TV.
Five years after this patent was approved, Goldman and former Apple colleagues Steve Perlman and Bruce Leak, co-founded WebTV Networks, a company that offered consumers the ability to surf the Internet using their television sets. Microsoft bought WebTV in 1997 for $425 million, and changed its name to MSN TV. Goldman then founded Mailblocks in 2002, a Web-based e-mail service touted for its spam-blocking capabilities.
When he wasn’t inventing new computer technologies, Goldman served on the board of BraveKids, a charity that uses computers and the Internet to help the families of children with chronic or life threatening illnesses. He was also the youngest alumnus to create an endowed chair at Princeton.

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Priscilla Kidder

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Categories: Business

Priscilla Comins Kidder, a noted wedding dress designer, died on Nov. 30. Cause of death was not released. She was 86.
Kidder graduated from the New England School of Design and took a job as a wedding dress model at the R.H. White department store in Boston. Within a few years, she worked her way up to buyer of the store’s bridal section. In 1948, Kidder became a custom dressmaker/wedding consultant and opened her own boutique. She made a fortune selling wedding finery to post-war brides — the store grossed $10,000 in its first week of business.
For more than half a century, Priscilla of Boston was known as an elegant establishment that produced wedding gowns designed to make a bride feel like a queen. Kidder’s bridal fashions actually adorned royalty; she designed the dress actress Grace Kelly wore when she wed Monaco’s Prince Ranier. Her stylish clothing also appealed to women in American high society. Luci Baines Johnson, the daughter of President Lyndon B. Johnson, and Julie and Tricia Nixon, the daughters of President Richard M. Nixon, wore Priscilla dresses for their weddings.
She sold the wedding dress company in 1993 to oil heiress Patricia Kaneb. In 2000, several of Kidder’s dresses and prints were incorporated into the permanent collection of the Smithsonian Institute’s Museum of American History in Washington, D.C.

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Harold von Braunhut

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Categories: Business

Harold Nathan Braunhut, the creator of Amazing Sea Monkeys, died on Nov. 28. Cause of death was not released. He was 77.
Von Braunhut, who lived in New York City for most of his life, specialized in creating quirky inventions and marketing them to children. He built a mail order empire selling X-Ray Spex, Crazy Crabs and Amazing Hair-Raising Monsters by advertising in comic books.
Of the 195 patents he held, von Braunhut was best known for his Sea Monkeys — tiny, brine shrimp that would come to life when water was added. Over the past 43 years, he sold billions of the creatures. In the early ’90s, CBS aired a Sea Monkeys sitcom, and 400 million went into space with John Glenn in 1998.

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John Sidgmore

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Categories: Business

jsidgmore.jpgJohn W. Sidgmore, the former president of WorldCom who revealed the company’s shoddy accounting practices, died on Dec. 11 from complications of acute pancreatitis. He was 52.

Sidgmore graduated from State University of New York in 1973 with a bachelor’s degree in economics. He was hired by General Electric, and over the next 10 years, worked his way up to manager and vice president of information services. During his four years in the unit, Sidgmore tripled its net income and achieved 20 percent in growth in revenue.

At the start of the Internet boom, Sidgmore led a series of technology companies, including UUNET Technologies, which grew from $6 million in revenue in 1995 to $4 billion in 1999. UUNET is now the world’s largest Internet access provider.

Sidgmore was the vice chairman of WorldCom’s board when the company began inflating its earnings in order to appear more profitable. A few weeks after he was named president and chief executive officer in April 2002, Sidgmore disclosed the company’s accounting errors.

The Securities and Exchange Commission filed civil fraud charges against WorldCom for improperly accounting for nearly $4 billion in expenses. The charges caused the company’s stock to drop to less than $.10/share and forced WorldCom to declare Chapter 11 bankruptcy in July 2002. Sidgmore left WorldCom five months later, and became the chairman of Electronic Commerce Industries in Virginia.

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Joseph Williams

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Categories: Business

Joseph Williams, the banker who developed the modern credit card, died on Nov. 8. Cause of death was not released. He was 88.
Williams was working at the San Francisco-based Bank of America in 1958 when he was selected to head the company’s new Consumer Services Research Department. There he developed the BankAmericard, the first credit card that could be used in any store in the U.S., for any kind of purchase.
The card also allowed the debt to be repaid in monthly installments, and gave customers a 30-day grace period to pay off the credit card’s balance without incurring interest fees. The Diners Club and American Express cards predated the BankAmericard, but they required all charges be paid within 30 days.
In 1966, the BankAmericard was licensed to banks in other states. It was eventually renamed Visa.

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