Halsey Minor Ceo, Cnet

Just four years ago, Halsey Minor was on the brink of bankruptcy. He had been trying to launch CNET Inc., a media company devoted to high-tech news. But expenses were mounting, he had maxed out his credit cards, and he was $40,000 in the hole. "I was going to quit," recalls the 32-year-old Minor, who is a dead ringer for Apple Computer Inc. co-founder Steven P. Jobs in his younger years.

Thanks to a last-minute investment from a well-to-do friend, however, Minor's startup survived. And how. His San Francisco-based company now boasts nine Internet sites, including the popular, all-tech News.Com, as well as four television programs devoted to computers, the Internet, and digital technologies. This September, CNET also will launch Snap! Online, an Internet information service. It's no wonder, then, that CNET now ranks as one of the leading new multimedia companies, going head-to-head with the likes of America Online, Wired, and Yahoo!.

Minor no longer has trouble funding his upstart. Big-time investors, including Microsoft Corp. co-founder Paul Allen and Intel Corp., are on board. And so are mom-and-pop investors. Following a successful initial public offering in 1996, CNET's market capitalization today is more than $400 million, and Minor's personal stake in the company is worth an estimated $73 million. This despite the fact that CNET just posted its first profitable quarter last month. Not bad for a guy who began his professional career as an investment banker at Merrill Lynch & Co. and then as a young executive at the world's largest head-hunting firm, Russell Reynolds Associates Inc.

Aside from his entrepreneurial exploits, Minor is poised to become one of Silicon Valley's elite. He is a member of the executive committee of Technology Network, a newly formed bipartisan group devoted to advancing high-tech's political agenda. Other members include Netscape Communications CEO James Barksdale, venture capitalist L. John Doerr, Sun Microsystems CEO Scott McNealy, and Cisco Systems CEO John Chambers. So, in addition to hobnobbing with President Clinton, as Minor recently did, he also hangs out with some of Silicon Valley's best and brightest.

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