DMM: William Lohse

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William Lohse likes being the underdog. Which is why after his contract expired late last year with trade show giant Softbank Forums, he left to invent a new Internet business model.

"It was time to get back into startups," said Mr. Lohse, who was founding president and CEO at Softbank Forums.

Vital stats:
Title: President-CEO of NetWeb Corp., San Francisco.
Age/bio: 46, born in Los Angeles; B.A., philosophy, Sonoma State University, Sonoma, Calif., 1974.
Director of sales, president of software company IMSAI Europe, 1976-79; Various posts at Ziff-Davis Publishing, 1985-90: publisher, PC Magazine 1985-87; group VP, PC Magazine, MacUser, PC Computer and Computer Shopper, 1987-88; president of Ziff-Davis 1988-90; founding president and CEO, Softbank Forums, 1992-97; current post, 1998-.

Wanting to get involved in Web publishing, he couldn't decide if he should follow the route of creating ad-supported content or be a supplier of Web site infrastructures. So he created something called "Web services" and with his wife, Victoria, founded NetWeb Corp.

It's "like infrastructure, but instead of selling it, we're going to give the services away in exchange for traffic, which we aggregate together and sell to advertisers."

Soon after opening shop in San Francisco early this year, NetWeb acquired SmartClicks, a Charlotte, N.C., free ad banner exchange company. Mr. Lohse also hired Anna Zornosa, former senior VP-ad sales and affiliate development at PointCast, as the company's chief operating officer.

While NetWeb hasn't launched its ad program, SmartClicks is already serving 32,000 sites in its network. Half the ad inventory goes back to member sites for free, while the other half is sold to advertisers.

As a hippie in the '70s, Mr. Lohse got into tech sales out of college. In the next two decades, he started and sold software companies, helped take PC Magazine to No. 1 in ad revenue and served as president of Ziff-Davis.

He said he wants NetWeb to be the No. 1 suite of services for Web businesses, but right now, "there's nobody making the claim."

Betcha didn't know: Mr. Lohse started his career in San Francisco as a runway model and a door-to-door salesman of vitamins and biodegradable detergents.

Copyright June 1998, Crain Communications Inc.

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