CKS invested in programmers, computers and other technology early in the game, developing into an integrated marketing company that offered everything from CD-ROM programs and computer-designed packaging to full-service advertising campaigns. Over the years, CKS boasted clients such as United Airlines, Apple Computer and Levi Strauss & Co. One major project was an image overhaul for United that included a computerized redesign of everything from the look of its aircraft, repainting them in the now-familiar gray and blue design, to its sales counters and business cards.
In 1996, Mr. Kvamme sensed the stock market's fascination with anything high tech and took CKS public. The IPO raised $40 million, and the stock subsequently soared, soon recording a market capitalization of $400 million -- equaling the paper value of True North Communications, a traditional agency with 10 times CKS' billings.
But making one fortune wasn't enough for Mr. Kvamme, an entrepreneur whose first project was selling dummy cell phone to 1980s yuppies who couldn't afford the then-expensive wireless technology. In 1998, as chairman of CKS Group, Mr. Kvamme guided the agency into a merger with USWeb Corp., an Internet services company. While serving as chairman of the combined USWeb/CKS, he became a partner in Sequoia Capital. This year, USWeb/CKS was sold to computer and Internet services supplier Whittman-Hart, which changed its name to MarchFirst.
For the first time since the early days of interactive marketing, Mr. Kvamme is not an officer of an interactive agency. However, he's still in the game, serving as a director on the boards of a range of Internet-age companies, such as online jeweler Miadora.com and Oncology.com, a site for cancer doctors, patients and their families. He's also the lead partner for Sequoia Capital's investment in WebSwap, a swap site. Most recently he joined the board of Tonos, a network for music industry people to interact with aspiring artists and fans.
Mr. Kvamme says he remembers his first encounter with the Internet in about 1993. He logged onto sites of the University of Oslo and the University of Paris, places where he had studied. "From my home office, I felt I actually visited Oslo and France," he recalls.
He says that in those early days, he believed the Internet would evolve much more slowly than it did. "The Internet is still in its adolescence," says Mr. Kvamme. While some market watchers may think the Internet is over-hyped, he disagrees: "The Internet is still under-hyped."
He believes people soon will use it for most of their communications and purchasing. "Five to seven years from now, people will look back and say, `Why did we drive to the store?' or `You used to pay for things by writing on a paper and putting a stamp on an envelope?' "