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G.M. O'Connell


Title:Founder and partner, Modem Media, Westport, Conn.

Bio:Born in Stamford, Conn. B.A. in English and history, Middlebury College, 1983.

Work history:House painter, 1983; marketing executive, Productivity Inc., 1984; product manager for Comp-U-Mall, CUC International, 1985-87; current post, 1987-.

Naming his interactive agency Modem Media eight years ago turned out to be a good idea, because G.M. O'Connell is waist-deep in the online world these days.

Mr. O'Connell and fellow CUC-er Doug Ahlers founded the agency on a lark: If it didn't work out after a year, they said, they'd go on to other things.

The numbers tell the story. Modem has 70 employees and may top out at 100 by yearend. Gross income was under $1 million in 1993 and $3.5 million last year.

Clients like MasterCard International, AT&T and Delta Air Lines swear by the Modem philosophy that the current Web craze is only the tip of the online revolution.

"I think the Web is going to metamorphosize into a lot of different things," said Mr. O'Connell, who looks more like 25 than 33. "I think there will be a lot of attachments to the Web that are much more private."

Instead of the current rage of "tract home pages," a term he coined, Mr. O'Connell believes interactive media must get smarter and learn what consumers want instead of making them search for it themselves. Toward that goal, Modem is revamping its entire Coors Zima Web site to incorporate "smart agent" technology that will put the right information in front of the right user.

An avid fisherman, Mr. O'Connell has traveled from Maine to Argentina to pursue his hobby. And with his first child due in November, "I'll be into diapers soon," he laments. Now all he has to do is convince Huggies it needs a Web site.

Betcha didn't know:Managing Modem Media has kept Mr. O'Connell so busy that "Country Bob," his cherished 1967 Pontiac Le Mans, has been in mothballs for three years.

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