Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Living in Ponzi's Old Digs

I bumped into Izhar Armony of Charles River Ventures at a panel last month, and somehow the Jack Madoff scandal came up...

... which led to a discussion about Charles Ponzi, the Bostonian who invented the Ponzi scheme.

Armony asked me if I knew who was living in the old Ponzi mansion in Lexington. I said I had no idea. Armony replied that Ofer Gneezy, CEO of the VOIP services firm iBasis, bought it in 2000, right after the company's IPO. Just some interesting trivia...

Gneezy told me that he was simply looking for a house, and only later did he discover who the previous owner was. Makes for good stories at parties, he said.

The mansion was worth about $40,000 in 1921 when Ponzi's estate was liquidated. Gneezy bought it for $2.8 million. Here's the Zillow listing.

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Monday, January 7, 2008

Can the Collaboration Space Continue?

Bill Warner tells me he is planning to leave the Cambridge Collaboration Space that he started back in 2002.

His goal was to create a work environment where small start-ups and solo entrepreneurs could rent space and enjoy turn-key infrastructure. Warner, the founder of Avid Technology, served as the benevolent landlord, and his tenants have included serial entrepreneur Yonald Chery, Eric Peters (one of the early employees at Avid), Eliot Mack of Cinital, Michael Wissner, Paul English (a co-founder of Kayak), and John Lert of CasePick Systems.

Warner says he never was able to make the space a profit-generating venture, but he reckons that there's about a 50 percent chance that a group of tenants, led by architect Philip Dowds, will take over the lease and keep the space going.

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