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Sunday, May 22, 2022


Bill Gross

Founder and Chief Executive


Bill Gross is never at a loss for ideas.

The self-described “computer geek” has hatched many a successful entrepreneurial egg, but his latest company, Idealab!, is dedicated to raising capital for the ideas of others specifically, start-up Internet companies.

He has launched 26 such companies since creating Idealab! in 1996 including CitySearch, which is soon expected to issue an initial public stock offering, CareerLink, SmartGames, PeopleLink, GoTo.com, Tickets.com and the Wedding Channel.

A testimony to Gross’ reputation: Idealab! received backing from the likes of Steven Spielberg, Compaq Computer Chairman Benjamin Rosen and former AT & T; executive Robert Kavner.

“When people think about the strength of technology in this region, they think about Bill Gross. It is pretty clear that whatever he touches is significant,” said Cliff Numark, program director of the Los Angeles Technology Alliance.

It was Knowledge Adventure that really catapulted Gross, 40. He founded the children’s educational software company in 1991, and grew it into the nation’s largest publisher of children’s software.

Gross’ entrepreneurial roots go back to when he was 12 and developed a solar dish for concentrating sunlight. By high school he had created Solar Devices Inc., which manufactured and marketed kits with plans for converting solar power to electrical and mechanical energy.

Solar Devices sold thousands of these kits by advertising in Popular Science Magazine. The earnings helped pay for Gross’ first year at the California Institute of Technology.

In college he started a company called GNP Inc. to market a speaker design he invented. In 1984, only three years after graduating from Caltech, he transitioned into software, changing GNP Inc.’s name to GNP Development. The revamped company created a software program that enhanced the Lotus 1-2-3 program. GNP Development was bought out by Lotus in 1986 for $10 million.

Gross, along with his brother Larry Gross, worked as an outside consultant for Lotus until 1990, developing new products for the company. Soon thereafter, he launched Knowledge Adventure.

Jessica Toledano

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