Now Starring … Some Individuals of Note in 2001 2001 – A Year of Change City Councilman Alex Padilla rose to the occasion, former Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt came to town, Hector Barreto left, Al Mann sold out and plenty of Valley business people defied the odds in an “interesting” economy. Here are a few of the notable for more than one reason people who made 2001 such an intriguing year in the San Fernando Valley. Courtroom Romance United Online Inc. CEO Mark Goldston gets an “A” for diplomacy for commandeering the surprise merger of his company, NetZero Inc., and competitor Juno Online Services, after he filed suit against the rival Internet provider alleging technological pilfering. Knows When to Fold Them Alfred Mann, founder of, among other companies, Northridge-based MiniMed Inc., decided this was the year to move on and sold his insulin pump manufacturing firm to Minnesota-based Medtronic Inc. for $3.3 billion in cash in June. He’s still hard at work, this time trying to get an artificial pancreas to market. Stay tuned. Our Man in Washington Hector Barreto traded in his company and position on myriad local business advocacy groups for a chance to help President George W. Bush as the head of the U.S. Small Business Administration. Good Driver Awards Robert Solomon came out of retirement to rescue his former plush toy and novelty manufacturing firm, Applause LLC, from bankruptcy in March, then landed the mother of all licensing agreements with DreamWorks SKG for the Shrek character line. — As CEO of Chad Therapeutics, Tom Jones got some breathing room of his own, steering his portable oxygen system company out of a five-year slump and, in June, netting the first quarterly profit since 1998. — Deep in the heart of a downturn of his own, Jerry R. Welch, CEO for The Right Start Inc., took advantage of turbulent times in his industry and acquired rivals Zany Brainy Inc. and FAO Schwarz. Right Start’s stock, which traded at 88 cents a year ago, was above $5 in December as a result. But the jury is still out on whether Welch managed to buy his way to a respectable bottom line: this year’s holiday sales figures won’t be in for weeks. — Insane was the word his colleagues used to describe Scott McAfee, CEO of WMC Mortgage Corp., when he shut all 38 of his brick and mortar branches to launch a completely Web-based operation this summer. The company netted an additional $465 million worth of business in the third quarter. Park Place? He Already Owns It Bob Funari, CEO of Syncor International Corp., was in a serious buying mood in a seriously uncertain year. Syncor, as part of a long-planned acquisition strategy, gobbled up InteCardia Inc. and Inovision Radiation Measurement; then took over Multi-Medica S.A. More acquisitions are planned in 2002. The Great Divide LAFCO’S top executive, Larry J. Calemine, finally released the long-awaited report on the viability of a Valley breakup last March. The good news was the report said a new Valley city could survive on its own. The bad news is, no one has agreed on anything else since. The Newest Capitalist on the Block When the Rockwell Science Center spun off into a commercial enterprise in June, Derek T. Cheung not only went from head of Rockwell International’s R & D; lab to become CEO of his own company, he took the rights to all the technological developments that, in the past, belonged to creators and went with them in their search for that great IPO in the sky. What’s Age Got to Do With It? Not only did Alex Padilla, the 28-year-old newcomer to the L.A. City Council from Pacoima, manage to snag the city council president slot, he also found himself suddenly cast in the role of the city’s point man in the early days following the attacks of Sept. 11 when Mayor James Hahn was grounded in Washington, D.C. Into the Woods Prompting a storm of controversy, The Ahmanson Land Co. signed on former U.S. Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt to help smooth the feathers of environmentalists and local opponents of the company’s planned 3,000-home development. The Midas Touch, Finally After years of delay and two previously nixed proposals, the L.A. City Council gave Jerry Snyder, a partner with J.H. Snyder Co., the green light to build his $180 million NoHo Commons development next to the North Hollywood subway station. And the Winner Is . Under the tutelage of Dean William Toutant, Cal State Northridge’s College of Arts, Media, and Communication received the IndiGO Award for Excellence from the Association of Independent Feature Film Producers.
Now Starring … Some Individuals of Note in 2001