July 11, 2009
Steve Kirsch, 42, was chairman and founder of Infoseek Corporation, a leading Internet navigation service. But Disney acquired Infoseek on November 17, 1999. That meant that Steve was out of a job, looking for work. In other words, he became one of the “unemployed in Silicon Valley.”
Failing to find suitable work at reasonable pay, he started a new company focused on infrastructure for the expanding Internet e-commerce market. It’s called Propel.
Prior to Infoseek, Steve founded Frame Technology in 1986 and Mouse Systems in 1982. He has been involved with the Internet since 1972 when he worked with the “father of the Internet” Vint Cerf and others at the first ARPANET node as a systems programmer while attending high school. He has BS and MS degrees in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from MIT.
At Infoseek, Steve was instrumental behind the development of Infoseek’s spider, search engine, auctions, community directory, Express search, Ultraseek Server, and the new Java search engine.
Steve and his wife Michele have a $75M charitable fund and have donated over $10M to charitable causes over the past 5 years. Recently, in response to an $11M shortfall at the United Way of Santa Clara County, the Kirsch Foundation donated $1M to establish an Emergency Response Fund at the Community Foundation of Silicon Valley to benefit the charities affected by the shortfall. A recent article in the Los Altos Town Crier described their charitable giving. In 1999, they were named Outstanding Philanthropists of the Year by the Silicon Valley chapter of the National Society of Fund Raising Executives. The time Steve doesn’t spend at work or with family is usually spent on philanthropy. This leaves little time for sleep, unfortunately.
Steve was the keynote speaker at the SIGIR (Special Interest Group on Information Retrieval) conference in Australia (Aug 24-28). He has given keynote presentations at Internet World, Web World, Inc. magazine CEO conference, AEA Innovation Now, COSMOS ’97 (Japan), and Infostor. He has spoken at Comdex, Agenda, Seybold, PC Forum, SCOUG, CalTech Enterprise Forum, the Software Publisher’s Association, and a whole bunch of other places.
Steve has received a bunch of awards and honors.