Honorable Mention: Shoba Purushothaman
If you've seen images of the war in Iraq or long lines for the flu vaccine on television this year, chances are good that Shoba Purushothaman had a hand in getting them in front of your eyes. Her New York City company, the NewsMarket, enables broadcasters to transmit, watch, and download high-quality video footage over the Web. This year alone, the firm delivered thousands of video clips from dozens of clients to more than 3,000 newsrooms around the world.
Purushothaman came up with the idea while she was running a public relations firm specializing in supplying corporate news to the networks. The Malaysian-born CEO -- who had also worked as a reporter for The Wall Street Journal -- knew that journalists needed information on a moment's notice. She also knew that there were only two ways to deliver broadcast-quality video footage to TV newsrooms -- by tape or by satellite, neither of which are quick or easy. Why not make the footage available on the Internet? Purushothaman would offer her service free to the press, instead charging corporate and government clients about $100,000 each to have their news footage distributed to the broadcast media.
As is often the case with new ideas, the NewsMarket took a while to catch on. Purushothaman founded the company in the midst of the dot-com crash, when capital was scarce and potential clients were slashing budgets. To make matters worse, many newsrooms weren't equipped with the broadband access necessary to download broadcast-quality videos from the Web.
Purushothaman never lost faith in her idea, and managed to raise money and hire good workers even during the rough economy. "She's been through difficult times and maintained her cool and confidence," says venture capitalist Alan Patricof, whose firm, Apax Partners, also backed America Online.
This year, her hard work paid off. She landed several blue-chip customers, including General Motors, Yahoo, and Google. That last account was such a coup that, after the ink was dry on the contract, the CEO toasted her success with a glass of champagne. Then in April, she raised $4 million in financing from Apax, as well as Hearst Interactive Media, and Boldcap Ventures. She spent some of the cash on new headquarters in midtown Manhattan and some of it to hire four seasoned executives to beef up her 26-person staff.
Purushothaman's unwavering optimism and magnetic personality surely rank among the NewsMarket's many competitive advantages. "Shoba lights up a room when she walks into it," explains co-founder Anthony Hayward. "Even in tough times, people saw the vision that she was communicating, and that kept our team steady."