Inc. named Ping Fu its 2005 Entrepreneur of the Year not only for building an innovative software company, Geomagic, but also for her resilience after escaping a difficult life in Communist China. In July, Ping opened a subsidiary of Geomagic in Shanghai. With the new office and another in Japan, Ping says that Geomagic hopes to supply its three-dimensional design tools to companies in the Eastern manufacturing hubs.
Though Ping has visited China about once a year since 1993, the recent trip was an emotional one, she says. A friend Ping hadn't seen in almost 30 years organized a party in Nanjing where Ping's friends and family members turned out to welcome her. At Ping's request, her friend also invited a few former members of the Red Guard, which during the Cultural Revolution had tortured Ping and her sister. (Ping is working on a book about her life and wanted to speak with people familiar with that period.) One former guard at the party recognized Ping and apologized for the abuse she and her sister endured as children. "This was really a landmark event for me," she says. --Darren Dahl
Checking Out of Kimpton
Tom LaTour, one of our Entrepreneurs We Love in April 2005, recently retired as CEO of Kimpton Hotel and Restaurant Group. In the story we praised LaTour--who took the helm of the company after its founder, Bill Kimpton, died in 2001--for his personal touches, especially his daily wine tastings with guests. LaTour insists that his departure won't deprive the boutique hotel of its character. "I've taken pride in making myself replaceable," he says. LaTour will stay on Kimpton's board but will focus most of his entrepreneurial energy on his Napa winery. Keep an eye out for his LaTour Vineyards Chardonnay. --Peter Hoy