Net Buzz

FRAMINGHAM (07/03/2000) - When John Cullinane says his newly minted startup will buck Internet convention by actually turning a profit within a year, his voice carries an unmistakable disdain for those who see little need to embrace that old-school discipline.

Cullinane earned the right to turn his nose up at profligate Net business plans by having founded Cullinet Software, which in 1978 became the first software company to go public and was later the first to log a US$1 billion valuation.

(Back when a billion was real money.)

None of this means his latest venture, Mogall.com, will ever net a nickel, but at least he seems credible when saying the company wants to "keep one foot in the Internet and one foot in reality."

Mogall is a company, but not the kind you normally read about here.

Mogall networking customers are companies and organizations whose employees and members depend heavily on their Rolodexes to find the right person for the right job: law firms, banks, professional associations and the like. Mogall customers will pay $19.95 per month per individual to access the Mogall network, which features a database listing biographical backgrounds and professional skills for other participants.

Need an arcane skill from within your far-flung corporation, or a lawyer with offices overseas? Not only might a Mogall search find a handful who fit the bill, it should also bring to the top the one who hails from your hometown, cut his professional teeth with your former employer, or went to your alma mater.

"When you're looking for discrete skills, you find individuals who have some connection to you," says Mogall CEO Brian Leary, who Boston-area readers know as a long-time TV reporter/anchorman for the ABC affiliate here. "Bob knows Tom who knows Susan who knows Ed, and therefore I have a relationship with Ed. We take six degrees of separation and reduce it to two."

Cullinane and Leary say Mogall will trump other "skills banks" because its data will be kept fresh without relying on members to do the updating. An online collaboration workspace will dynamically update user profiles as projects are completed.

Granted, this all sounds a little squishy. But Mogall claims to have 15,000 members ready to roll when the service goes live later this month, drawing from the likes of Hoar, Ernst & Young, Fleet Boston Private Clients Group, Foxboro Company and Associated Industries of Massachusetts.

And, Leary's a Harvard Law School grad. . . . Those guys practically invented networking.

Which is to say not so much, right?

Wrong, says former Cabletron CEO Craig Benson, who along with links legend Arnold Palmer is behind a plan to build The Golf Club of New England in southern New Hampshire. This member-owned monument to Twain's "good walk spoiled" will feature every luxury a hooky-playing exec could imagine, as well as a deep bow to the workaholics in that corner-office set.

Here's how the place is described in a press release: "The only fully networked, business-professional golf club providing high-speed, broadband wireless access for e-mail, Web transactions and laptop computing with real-time videoconferencing throughout all 18 holes of play, as well as the clubhouse."

Two thoughts besides the obvious "They must be joking":

If you absolutely, positively have to have a data port at your disposal while waiting to tee off, maybe - just maybe - you should be back at the office instead of at the country club.

And, this place will be under an hour's drive from where I'm sitting: I sure hope they have a press day when it opens.

Got a news tip? Tee it high and let fly to buzz@nww.com.

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