From Entrepreneur To Search Engineer

Former music agent Kevin Henderson is singing a new tune at Infoseek

The information technology (IT) industry is the fastest growing in America today. It’s created more jobs than bodies to fill them, and a nice payday for much soughtafter qualified talent. But don’t be fooled: the positions aren’t all technically oriented. Just ask Kevin Henderson, director of business development at Infoseek, one of the Internet’s most popular search engines.

In this position, Henderson, who joined Infoseek in 1997, focuses on licensing content and technology and spends most of his time on acquisitions. His first acquisition project was the $6.7 million purchase of WBS online, an Internet community that features a chat service and home page building. Adding value to the service enticed WBS’ 5 million daily page views into the Infoseek fold. Henderson, who doesn’t have a technical background, has been a player in the hightech world of the Internet since 1995.

“The majority of people who work in high tech don’t have technology degrees,” explains the former Harvard liberal arts major. “You have to know how to use, explain and sell the technology, but the job is not pure high tech.” Henderson’s first brush with technology came in his first business venture as an agent for classical musicians. Launched in 1987, Euphonia Artist Management’s first client was Henderson’s brother, Alexander, an opera singer.

Designing databases to handle a list of clients that extended around the world afforded Henderson a practical lesson in the power of technology. “My interest grew as I realized how technology could be a great equalizer, eliminating much of the leverage that large companies have over small companies,” recalls the 37-year-old West Medford, Massachusetts, native. After several years as a music agent, Henderson was interested in tackling a new career — this time in information technology.

“By the time Microsoft had become a dominant player, I realized I enjoyed IT and wanted to do something in the field,” he says. In a far less open IT job market in 1995, Henderson’s lack of experience was a liability. His break came when an acquaintance asked him to come on board as a co-founder of an Internet start-up company called @Sports, which designed Web pages for professional sports leagues.

Rather than compete with the established market leaders, the company changed its mission and name shortly after its launch in 1995. The new company was called WebTrack, and its goal was to make some sense out of the burgeoning world of the Internet. It was one of the first companies to quantify advertising spending for individual Web sites for advertising agencies wanting to get the most value for their online marketing efforts.

“WebTrack helped pioneer the move to using page views rather than hits to measure traffic, a more effective means of measurement,” says Henderson. The company was so successful that it was bought by Jupiter Communications, an Internet research firm, in May 1996 for an undisclosed sum. By then Henderson had already begun work on a spinoff of WebTrack with several of the founders.

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