Mike Markson ’89
Blazes His Own Trail As Entrepreneur
When Mike Markson graduated from Wittenberg with a degree in economics, he surely didn’t know that 20 years later he would be on the brink of launching his third Internet start-up company. In fact, as he says, “I had no idea what I was going to do then.”
More than one college graduate has wrestled with that feeling, but Markson still felt ready for whatever path presented itself. He credits Wittenberg with preparing him and giving him much more than an educational experience.
“It was a great place to grow – academically, but emotionally and socially as well,” he says. “You might not know it when you leave Witt, but you are better positioned than you might think you are because of those four years of learning.”
After a year of waiting tables, he enrolled in law school and received degrees from Capital University and Georgetown University. Then it was on to Washington, D.C., and New York City to practice. Recalling the long hours (and numerous all-nighters), he says he knew his days as a corporate attorney were numbered.
His quest for something new coincided with the first dot-com bubble, and Markson found himself swept up in it. Despite having no technology background, he moved to the heart of it all – Silicon Valley – and launched Terraspring Inc., his first start-up.
When the dot-com bubble burst, and he sold his company to Sun Microsystems, Markson found himself again at a crossroads of sorts.
Instead of panicking, however, Markson traveled for a year. But it wasn’t long before he was back in the saddle launching Topix LLC, an automated news and community aggregate, with a group of high school friends. After selling it in 2005 to newspaper publishers Gannett, Knight-Ridder and Tribune, he eventually took his core team and is now in the process of launching Blekko, a search engine start-up.
There is no doubt that Markson has found his calling as an entrepreneur. As the only non-engineer at his company, he is technically the vice president of marketing, but he calls himself “the VP of everything else.” And that is exactly what he loves about his work – it’s challenging, fun and he has the chance to learn everyday by doing.
“There is no typical day in the life of an entrepreneur – every day is new and different,” he says. “And, I get to make decisions way above my pay grade.”