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Now Available: Innovators Under 35 2013 See The 2013 List »

Mike McCue, 33

Tellme Networks

Mike McCue has the distinction of being indirectly responsible for crashing a large chunk of the Internet. Not on purpose, of course. The company McCue founded in 1990,Paper Software, created a VRML (virtual reality modeling language) plug-in that enabled the Netscape Navigator browser to display complex graphics. Paper Software’s site was inundated by people seeking to download the program. This development naturally caught the attention of Netscape, which put Paper Software’s Web site on its homepage. The resulting overload temporarily brought down a large portion of the Northeastern Internet hub.

Most of the outcome, however, was positive. The fuss attracted the attention of Netscape co-founder Marc Andreessen (see p.106). McCue, who had turned down offers from America Online and Silicon Graphics, sold his company to Netscape, where he became director of advanced technology. After the announcement of Netscape’s imminent acquisition by AOL in 1998, McCue left to start Tellme Networks. Tellme won’t tell us exactly what it’s up to, but it’s rumored that the company will make a natural-language interface for accessing the Web with speech over the phone.

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