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October 26, 1970|
Salt Lake City, Utah
|Occupation||Chief Executive Officer of ManyOne|
|Joe Firmage Executive Profile|
Joseph Firmage (born October 26, 1970 in Salt Lake City, Utah) is an American Internet entrepreneur and UFO researcher. He co-founded several business ventures prior to and during the dot-com boom. He is best known for claiming to have been visited by an extra-terrestrial being in his bedroom and his contributions to UFO related organizations and interests.
Early business career: Serius, Novell, USWeb
Firmage attended the University of Utah, where his father was a law professor, on a physics scholarship but only stayed through his sophomore year. In 1989 he started his first company, Serius, which grew out of a Macintosh program he had written for his mother's greeting card business. Serius produced developer tools for object-oriented programming. The company received funding from several sources, including Novell, which ultimately bought Serius for $24 million in 1993. Its product then became the basis for AppWare, while Firmage became vice president of strategic planning for Novell's NetWare division.
Firmage left Novell in 1995 when the company decided to focus its business on networking products. (Later, Firmage would explain the departure as a disagreement over Novell's strategy in selling its Unix licensing rights and a failure to compete with Microsoft in the network operating system market.) His brother, Edwin J. Firmage, started a new company, Network Multimedia, to buy the AppWare technology back from Novell. The product was eventually renamed Microbrew, but was not commercially successful, and the company disappeared after a few years.
Meanwhile, Firmage, together with two other former Novell executives, Toby Corey and Sheldon Laube and two other outside executives, Jim Heffernan and Ken Campbell, also founded USWeb during this period. Originally a Web design company, USWeb grew with a series of acquisitions into an Internet consulting firm, following a strategy of buying businesses with expertise in corporate intranets and extranets. USWeb stock became publicly traded in December 1997, as the company sought to achieve critical mass in an atmosphere Firmage acknowledged was an Internet bubble.
With Firmage as CEO, USWeb continued its expansion and ultimately merged with a rival Web consulting firm, CKS Group. Firmage was originally announced as CEO of the merged company, but in November 1998 Firmage was pressured to step down as CEO after claiming to have been visited by extra-terrestrials in his bedroom. Robert Shaw took over as CEO while the merger was under way. Initially Firmage took the title of chief strategist, then left the company in January 1999,.
Extraterrestrial visitation and astrophysics interests
Around the time of Firmage's departure from USWeb, extensive publicity was generated by his campaign to prove the existence of UFOs—a campaign that led to him being nicknamed the Fox Mulder of Silicon Valley (a reference to the television show The X Files).
Word began to circulate about his belief in extraterrestrial intelligences, which was the subject of a book he wrote called "The Truth". It contended that extraterrestrials had appeared on Earth periodically to help spur human technological advancement.
In his book, "The Truth" in the chapter titled "My Contact," Firmage recalls an incident one morning in 1997 in his bedroom: "As I snoozed, something amazing happened". "A remarkable being, clothed in brilliant white light, appeared hovering over my bed in my room. He had dark hair and a beard, I believe. He looked rather annoyed, and asked "Why have you called me here?" Firmage then claimed that the extra-terrestrial visitor "zapped" him with a ball of blue glowing energy. Firmage went on to claim the extra-terrestrial visitor revealed to him that important elements of modern technology were derived from an alien spacecraft supposedly recovered from the 1947 Roswell UFO incident. Firmage also related his own contact with an otherworldly figure, shortly before the USWeb IPO, with whom he discussed space travel. “...he has sunk more than $3 million into establishing Project Kairos (after an ancient Greek word meaning "the right or opportune moment") to prepare mankind for aliens.” The book was published in 2001.
Firmage: I still don’t know what it was. It could have been a relatively mundane rare experience in consciousness, it could have been a bad potato… it could have been a nightmare. It's not like I leaped out of bed and said “Well, I’ve had a vision. I’m gonna go, you know, start a science research institute or something like that. All it served to do I’d say, is punctuate a rising appreciation of some of the larger issues that we all confront together as a human family.
Interviewer: It did more than punctuate, it changed your life quite radically didn’t it?
Firmage: This is one of the misperceptions that been circulating in some of the press that have described that event. It wasn’t that event in my opinion, which changed my world view.
Interviewer: …From a very successful entrepreneur, someone who started up two companies, very successfully, made a huge amount of money, there you were, about to change course. If it wasn’t that event that caused you to change course, what was it?Firmage: A glimpse of a way through many of the deepest challenges that human society faces. And that has a lot to do with the science in science that were hinted at in the paper I read that night. It was in fact the scientific question that I had begun to study again, that I’d left before in school eight--then eight years before--that awakened my attention to new possibilities.
Pursuing these interests, Firmage founded a group called the "International Space Sciences Organization." In October 1999, his organization was reportedly sponsoring a private meeting to discuss propulsion technologies in space, which attracted attention from a NASA investigator concerned that proprietary technologies might be discussed there.
Projects after USWeb
After leaving USWeb, Firmage's next business project was known as Intend Change, launched together with USWeb co-founder Toby Corey, and also supported by the investment from USWeb itself. Intend Change also went into the consulting business, this time as an advisor to new Internet businesses seeking venture capital. In exchange for its services, Intend Change would take a ten percent equity stake in the client, which an analyst described as "pretty significant." The company did not plan to contribute any capital for these equity stakes, but Firmage and his partners indicated they might invest personal capital or help arrange funding with Intend Change's own venture capital partners. They also sought commitments from startups to set aside stock and dedicate it to charitable causes, saying they would donate half their equity in Intend Change to unspecified nonprofit agencies.
Prior to the dissolution of Intend Change in 2001, Firmage began working with Carl Sagan's widow, Ann Druyan, and her Cosmos Studios organization on a concept known as "Project Voyager," which would develop a web portal focused on science-oriented entertainment. They raised $23 million for the project from the same venture capital firms that supported Intend Change. The site was launched in 2001 at www.onecosmos.net and emphasized the use of three-dimensional navigation over text hyperlinks. The venture planned to draw content from the Sagan-founded Planetary Society while helping to support that organization and the [email protected] project in their other endeavors. However, it struggled to secure funding to remain operational.
Firmage founded ManyOne Networks in 2002 as the successor to OneCosmos with the intention to reshape the content landscape of the Web.
Return to USWeb
- Extra-Terrestrial Contact - UFO Researcher Joe Firmage
- Silicon Valley CEO Turns UFO Evangelist
- Truth and Consequences
- Template:Cite magazine
- Silicon Valley CEO continues alien quest despite skeptics
- Cox, Ed. A brief history of Microbrew.
- Cox, John. "Novell's AppWare tools are reborn at start-up company". Network World, 25 March 1996.
- Firmage, Joe (October 1, 2003). "Perspective: An open-source letter". http://news.com.com/2010-7344-5083904.html.
- Template:Cite magazine
- Mark Gimein. "Playing the Price". The Industry Standard, 1 May 1998.
- Swartz, Jon. "CEO Quits Job Over UFO Views". San Francisco Chronicle, 9 January 1999.
- Joe Firmage's "The Truth"
- Borland, John (December 18, 1998). "USWeb founder on quest for ET truth". http://news.com.com/2100-1017-219270.html.
- "Joe Firmage Alien Visitation Bedroom Encounter and Interview.
- Firmage, Joseph (2001). The Truth. Orem, Utah: Granite Publishing. ISBN 1-893183-17-3. http://web.archive.org/web/20071007183402/http://www.firmage.org/i/uploads/Truth.pdf. (According to Amazon, this book is no longer available.)
- Quotations excerpted from BBC video, retrieved March 19, 2008
- Beer, Matt. "Feds curious about high-tech conclave on extraterrestrials". San Francisco Chronicle, 8 October 1999.
- Kanellos, Michael. "USWeb founder Firmage back in business". CNET, 2 January 2002.
- Delevett, Peter. "USWeb co-founders intend to change funding for startups". Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal, 1 October 1999.
- Borland, John (August 18, 2000). "Joe Firmage sheds E.T. aura for science site". http://news.com.com/Joe+Firmage+sheds+E.T.+aura+for+science+site/2100-1023_3-244674.html?tag=st.ref.goo.
- Ratliff, Evan. "The Cosmic Connection". Wired 8.12, December 2000.
- Weintraub, Arlene. "From Different Planets: Ann Druyan and Joe Firmage form an unlikely venture into cyberspace and beyond". BusinessWeek, 22 January 2001.
- "Joe Firmage To Join Reorganized USWeb Central Worldwide as Chairman". PRWEB.COM Newswire. October 7, 2011. http://www.digitaljournal.com/pr/447110. Retrieved 2011-10-08.
- Official website