When the dot-com frenzy of the mid-'90s hit, Alex Algard decided to quit his job as an investment banker and start two Internet companies in Seattle. "Worst-case scenario, I figured this might be an expensive way to prepare for business school," he says. In 1997, he launched WhitePages.com, a telephone directory. Its ad revenue topped $18 million in 2004. In 1999, Algard teamed with high school pal Simon Han to found CarDomain Network, a Web community that lets auto buffs create personal websites for their tricked-out rides and buy subwoofers, custom exhaust systems, and under-car lighting. At the end of 2004, the company had revenue of $13.3 million, and now has 70 employees and 1.5 million registered users. Algard, 31, has been into cars since high school, when he spent his off-hours souping up his Acura Integra.
His wife wasn't thrilled when Algard recently "modded" his Lexus IS300, lowering it and adding a loud exhaust system. "She gets a little embarrassed driving it," he says.
"Thanks to this, I never miss an episode of Overhaulin', Rome, or Entourage."
Magellan RoadMate 760, $1,000
"My car didn't come with a navigation system, so I really like this portable GPS unit. I'm okay with directions, but now I never get lost."
Bose Quiet Comfort 2 headphones and Tempurpedic travel pillow, $300 and $80
"When I have these with me, I actually look forward to sleeping on a redeye."
Swedish princess torte, $25
"I was born in Sweden, and I never lost my liking for this cake. You can find it in any bakery there. It's sponge cake with cream and raspberries, draped in marzipan."
... and What I Covet
Shelby GT500E, $119,000 and up
"A Texas company, Unique Performance, takes 1960s Mustangs and converts them into mean racing machines. They are like pieces of art. I have a poster of one in my office, but I'd like the real thing."