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At least one be 100s CEO is looking to the next millennium by logging on to blackcyberspace.com. James C. Smith, CEO of Systems Engineering and Management Associates Inc. (SEMA) (No. 80 on the be industrial/service 100 list with $27.2 million in sales), has partnered with Black CyberSpace Online Inc. At a cost of $750,000, Smith purchased a 20% equity stake in the Internet service provider (ISP) and has been appointed its new chairman. Along with the Web company’s co-founders, President and CEO Anthony M. McCollum, 31, and Senior Vice President and COO Nathaniel R. Causley Jr., 36, the African American ownership in the new ISP is 84%.
McCollum and Causley started 4-Sight Entertainment Inc. in 1992. Their Internet directory spin-off offers a portal to a broad variety of ethnic interests, including shopping, bookstores, banking, stock and mortgage services. The site was uploaded in 1996 and attracts 1,500 visitors daily. Looking for investors, McCollum heard about Smith at the 1998 Black Congressional Caucus annual meeting in Washington, D.C., last September. Smith, as it so happens, was in the market for just the right investment opportunity.
“To grow, we needed to get into either a merger or strategic alliance,” says Smith. Under his wing, Black Cyberspace Online gains office space and administrative help at SEMA headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia. Smith’s funding will get the new ISP off the ground, contracting with an Internet backbone provider and financing a $500,000 advertising and promotional ramp to its September 1 launch.
At a monthly fee of $17.95, the goal is to begin ISP service with 30,000 subscribers, then sign up 100,000 within a year and up to 1 million in five years.