Special Report: BtoB's annual Top 25 E-Champions: Lori Mirek

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Lori Mirek decided in 1999, after 15 years in software, marketing and Internet b-to-b management positions, that what she really wanted to do was operate the world's first online currency exchange for institutional buyers and sellers. And that is what she's done with Currenex Inc., promoted as the world's first of its kind.

Mirek first worked in the industry at Sun Microsystems Inc. and then Oracle Corp. In these roles, she designed and managed artificial intelligence systems, competitive technology strategies and the first high-end commercial Unix servers. She later led Ameritech Corp.'s e-business unit in 1996 before jumping to Netscape as senior VP-head of worldwide marketing in 1997.

Name: Lori P. Mirek
Title: President-CEO
Company: Currenex Inc., Menlo Park, Calif.
Mission: "My passion is technology, and how one can harness the power of technology to create significantly new opportunities."

"The culture of Netscape then was all about changing the world," she said. "It was part of the corporate DNA. That's what made Netscape special. We knew we were changing the business paradigm, that we were empowering the world with technology in a new way."

After America Online Inc. bought Netscape, Mirek served as senior VP-general manger at AOL, leading its b-to-b e-commerce division. But her tenure at Netscape left her with a taste "of what it's like to change the world," and in September 1999, that desire led to the establishment of Currenex.

"As I looked over new b-to-b opportunities," she said, "I became intrigued by foreign exchanges because there are so many inefficiencies in how the buying side is connected to the selling side. It seemed ideally suited as an online opportunity."

The company's participants today consist of more than 35 major banks and 25 large corporations, including Shell Oil Co., which Mirek said passes more than $200 billion a year through foreign currency exchange, and MasterCard International Inc., which she said conducts 98% of its foreign currency exchange via Currenex.

"A lot of b-to-b exchanges are talking about how great it's all going to be," she said. "But we've been trading daily in an exchange and we know how great it is."
—Laurie Freeman

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