A Play for Power
(FORTUNE Magazine) – Envy is a sin, say some people. For Rebecca Lynn Eisenberg, it's a map. A biweekly columnist for the Sunday San Francisco Examiner, she has written her share of stories about starving Netheads who later founded companies and became millionaires. "I spent a lot of the past four years getting other people rich," she proclaims. Now she's unfurling her own flag: e-mercenary.
Many people in the Valley secretly seethe with envy when others cash in. Not Eisenberg. She embraces her envy. It is part of her persona. Watching strangers get rich was one thing, but when ex-boyfriends cashed in, it was a whole other matter. One ex she had coached on getting venture funding got $2 million from Hummer Winblad. Another ex drove by in his new BMW, and her blood boiled. If they could do it, why couldn't she?
Eisenberg, 31, has always craved power. "It's what can change the world," she says. It's why she became a lawyer. But after making Harvard Law Review and clerking for three federal judges, she decided she'd never be able to do what she wanted as a lawyer. New media was where she could have greater impact. So she switched careers and turned to writing for both print and new media. Four years later she has had another epiphany of irrelevance. This spring she realized that the Net entrepreneurs, the business types, with their hundreds of millions of dollars, are far more powerful than a mere columnist.
So now she's out to do more than just keep score. She decided to start her own company. She upgraded her wardrobe from Levi's to Jil Sander and Versace. Her beat-up VW has given way to a Miata. And, yes, she's attending to business: finding the right idea, writing a business plan, picking a name, having a logo designed, and pitching the concept to venture capitalists. It's not easy: She has already done all this once, only to discover that Microsoft was entering that same field. Now she's searching for something new.
"I have every intention of making a ton of money," she says. "My problem now is impatience."