Can Marimba's Ceo Keep The Beat?

A Silicon Valley sensation tackles startup problems--and skeptics

By now, Kim Polese is accustomed to the spotlight. The 35-year-old founder of Marimba Inc. has been living in its glow for the past two years. As a product manager at Sun Microsystems Inc., she helped make the company's Java programming language a household word. She became an overnight sensation when, at the height of the Java buzz early last year, she quit Sun and, along with two key Java engineers, formed Internet startup Marimba. A rare female CEO in a male-dominated industry, Polese hobnobs with President Clinton and Vice-President Gore, and is often mobbed by autograph seekers at trade shows. Musician Thomas Dolby, a friend of Polese's, calls her "Silicon Valley's answer to Madonna."

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