Judy Estrin's Unfailing Eye for Opportunity

After four startups, the serial entrepreneur thrives by concentrating on niche plays. Glamorous? Not really. Successful? You bet

Judy Estrin's life resembles an entrepreneur's fairy tale. In 1981, at age 26, she founds her first company -- which goes public four years later. After selling that, she starts a second venture, which does an IPO in 1992. Then Estrin moves on to startup No. 3: Launched in 1995, it appeals to Cisco Systems (CSCO ), which buys it in 1998 for $84 million in stock. And Cisco makes Estrin its chief technology officer.

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