New York: Larry Brilliant, a physician and political activist, seems an unlikely candidate for a high-tech entrepreneur hot to turn the world on to electronic meetings.
But the Michigan doctor, whose career included stops at occupied Alcatraz Island, a forgettable Warner Brothers film role, a year in a Himalayan monastery and a long fight for the eradication of smallpox instead of an MBA or background in venture capital looks at home peddling software in a suit and tie.
The businessman’s background is admittedly unusual. Brilliant’s company, Network Technologies International Inc., based in Ann Arbor, Mich., is one of the nation’s many fledgling “high-tech” firms.
Its business is selling computer software for electronic meetings; a technology Brilliant says not only can make business more efficient, but play a role in world peace.
Marketing it are AT&T and General Electric Co. Brilliant, 41, and others in the industry, believe overnight carrier service eventually will be replaced by products like those developed by Network Technologies International, “simple, cheaper, more efficient ways for groups. to communicate.”
“I would like to use this technology in the peace process … these systems help negotiate treaties between nations.” he said.
The former radical said he feels no conflict between his past commitments, admittedly antibusiness, and his present involvement with General Electric and AT&T.
“I have less of that kind of ideological difference than I ever did before. There was a time, yes, that that would have been a major adversarial ideology for me.
“If I thought the systems we were developing did not benefit humanity globally, I wouldn’t develop them.
“To me it’s more important to try to live each minute with those values than to try to figure it all out. I spent 10 years in India trying to figure it all out.
“It’s more important to me now to try to do something concrete and good. In all the things I’ve tried to do, the common denominator is to … do things that are good for people and to do things well.
“Whatever pure motive I had in the beginning is long gone; I’ve become an American capitalist now. And I’m deep into it… is having a lot of fun. But I never dreamed I would do this never in a million years.
“I spent the early 60s fighting against companies, and it’s so hard to think of myself in this position now.”
Brilliant’s newfound entrepreneurship ‘‘makes sense, if you live it. It’s just hard to understand if you read chapters out of order,” he said with a laugh.
Article extracted from this publication >> August 9, 1985