• 1957 March 04
    (b.) -


From 1996 until his death in 2007, he wasPresident and CEO of EarthLink, a large American Internet service provider. He built the company from a struggling start-up into a public company that took on telecommunications giants. During his leadership of EarthLink, he grew the customer base from just under 100,000 members to over 5 million. Born in Huntsville, Alabama, he grew up in Columbus, Georgia. He attended the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, Georgia where he received a Bachelor's degree in Chemical Engineering in 1979. He worked his way through college with jobs that included selling house siding over the phone. After graduation, he joined IBM, and in 1982, he received the IBM President's award for his work on the original IBM PC. In 1989, he became President of Digital Communications Associates (DCA) which made technology to allow personal computers talk to mainframe computers. A year later, at the age of 33, he became CEO of the company. At DCA, he successfully reorganized and led the company out of a two-year slump. For some time he was the New York Stock Exchange's youngest listed CEO. In 1996, Sky Dayton, the founder of EarthLink, an Internet access company, persuaded him to become EarthLink?s Chief Executive, working in Pasadena, Calif., and returning to his home in Atlanta on weekends. At the time, EarthLink was adding subscribers at a furious pace, growing 10 percent to 15 percent every week, but was said to be functionally bankrupt. The company borrowed money and, in January 1997, became one of the first Internet companies to go public - a few months before Amazon.com. The company had faced considerable challenges as consumers abandoning dial-up Internet access, the company?s bread and butter, in favor of broadband access. He pushed the company into new businesses, such as offering citywide wireless networks and investing in Helio, a venture with SK Telecom, which provides mobile phone service aimed at young consumers. It built a reputation for customer service and became known as a consumer-friendly alternative to America Online. EarthLink reported in a press release on November 21, 2006 that he had been diagnosed with a serious form of cancer which required him to take an undetermined leave of absence. The company announced that the Board of Directors named Mike Lunsford, Vice-President of Voice and Access, as interim CEO. EarthLink announced on January 3, 2007 that he had died at the age of 49 from complications of adrenal cortical cancer. He also worked for Proctor and Gamble and served as Senior Vice President of Sales, Marketing and International Operations at Hayes Microcomputer Products and has been credited with turning the modem into a consumer commodity. He was a member of the Board of Directors for Equifax, Global Payments Inc., and the Carter Center Board of Councilors. He received Young Alumnus of the Year honors from the Georgia Institute of Technology in 1993 and was inducted into the Georgia Technology Hall of Fame in 2005. He was also included in the "Top 40 Under 40" list in Atlanta's business community, and named Outstanding Young Person by the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to his death, he set up The Garry Betty Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to funding research into the genetic mutations that may lead to cancer.
  • Date of Birth:

    1957 March 04
  • Date of Death:

  • Noted For:

    Instrumental in the success of the original IBM Personal Computer
  • Category of Achievement:

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