David Bohnett could have retired five years ago when Yahoo Inc. paid an estimated $260 million in stock for his former company, GeoCities. Instead, Bohnett has used the proceeds for his venture capital firm and his eponymous foundation. From an office in Century City, Bohnett runs both operations simultaneously. The foundation, which is funded by a $30 million endowment, has given away $8 million to support voter registration drives, gun safety programs and gay rights. Meanwhile, Bohnett has stayed in touch with his technology roots, investing heavily in the Web portal Gay.com and storage provider Xdrive.com.


Question: Google's initial public offering seems to have inspired new confidence in technology. Are there still doubts lingering from the crash?
Answer: A lot of business models that people thought would come out sooner and didn't are now just coming about. Subscription based services, all variety of e-commerce, I think it's the continued maturation and evolution of the Web, broadband and the way people use the Internet. Google is in front and they are doing a great job, but the market opportunities are presenting themselves because of a natural development of the medium.


Q: What makes for a successful Internet-based business strategy?
A: The future has to do with accommodating users. That's really the key to building a successful business, watching how people use the technology and satisfying their needs based on how they want to access content and services and not the other way around. It's a cultural thing, a philosophical thing.


Q: There seems to be an inherent conflict between the Internet, which encourages a free flow of information, and copyright holders who rightfully should be paid for their work.
A: My concern is that if we hold on too tightly to existing business models and copyright issues, and if we don't embrace the market opportunities the Internet provides, we'll never get to take advantage of the opportunities the new medium provides for distributing more music and more content. It's dangerous when you see political and legal roadblocks that limit the development of new business models.


Q: The same level of innovation that took place in the 1990s doesn't seem to be happening today. Have we reached some kind of plateau?
A: Innovation is happening as fast as it ever has. Sony is coming out with a device called LocationFree TV. You have a bay station where your cable and TiVo and DVD and Internet all hook up that sends information wireless to a monitor about the size of a piece of paper. Tom (Gregory, Bohnett's significant other) and I have one at home. You hold it in your hand and you have a menu of what you want to look at. They've changed the delivery format to something you can hold and it makes the experience more personal. These are the areas where I think we are still continuing to evolve.

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