|Mark Frohnmayer builds a Utopian empire in Eugene||| Print ||
|Articles - December 2010|
Page 1 of 3
STORY BY KRISTEN HALL-GEISLER // PHOTOS BY LEAH NASH
Like so many others with coding skills in the late 1990s, Mark Frohnmayer started a video-game business. Unlike so many others, his start-up business, Garage Games, was more than a post-college whim — it’s still around, though without him at the helm. In 2007, Frohnmayer and his partners sold the business for quite a bit of cash. “I could’ve not worked for the rest of my days,” says Frohnmayer, now 36. Not that funding his lifestyle would take a fortune. “From a consumption point of view, I don’t demand a lot,” he says.
The next task was to decide what to do with his winnings, as he calls them, from the sale of his company. But while looking for his next project, the Eugene native felt a sense of despair at the mess the world was in. How could one man make a difference when the problems were so huge? He tried to tackle the question by taking a train trip to Washington D.C., to lobby against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. “You can see how well I did with that,” he says, laughing.
Frohnmayer, who is tall and lanky with short blond hair and wire-frame glasses, had already purchased a three-bedroom house that he still shares with roommates in Eugene’s Whiteaker neighborhood in 2005 and renovated it to be energy efficient. His philosophy of efficiency extended to his personal transportation. He searched for a fun electric vehicle that could get him around town at a reasonable price without the “I’m gonna die feeling” that so many neighborhood electric vehicles have. He came up empty.
Having degrees in electrical engineering and computer science from the University of California at Berkeley — and having been a General Motors scholar to boot — Frohnmayer decided to purchase a kit for a three-wheeled electric car called the BugE, which he built at home with friends. The kit car, which looks a bit like a white composite alien head on wheels, needed refinement to be viable for the mass market. But this, Frohnmayer recognized, was a way to make a dent in his despair.
In the meantime, a friend in real estate had bought a trio of buildings on the corner of Fifth Street and Blair Boulevard in the heart of Whiteaker and invited Frohnmayer to help with their redevelopment. “For a long time, I’d had a vision of a sort of a mixed-use development-style thing,” he says. “This opportunity presented a chance to take this empty carpet warehouse and junky office space and turn it into something cool.”
|Powerball jackpot hits new record|
|5.1-magnitude quake hits eastern Canada|
|How a Seattle school launched Bill Gates career|
|Windows Phone surpasses Blackberry|
|Kim Dotcom doesn't want 3D gun plans on Mega's servers|
|David Beckham retires from soccer|
|ODB, Eazy-E holograms to perform|
|Will this startup succeed?|
|The STEM shortage|
|Combined Transport keeps on trucking|
|Farm futures: private equity goes organic|
|Food cart owner Nong balances life, work and play|
|Celly launches its DIY network|
|What is driving the cost of health care? |
Oregon Business magazine's 5th annual
100 Best Green Companies to Work For in Oregon
Wednesday, May 29, 2013
From Oregon Translational Research and Development Institute: OTRADI today announced its plans to open and operate a 13,000 square-foot multi-tenant bioscience complex in the Willamette Wharf building at 4640 SW Macadam Avenue. Slated to be complete in spring 2013, the OTRADI Bioscience Incubator (OBI) will house up to six companies.
MEDIAmerica, publisher of Oregon Business and Oregon Home magazines, announces a new retail website: HalfOffOregon.com. The website offers lodging, dining, recreation and many other items at half off their regular cost.
As you probably know by now, The Vernon Company is a national leader in the promotional products industry with annual sales of over $60 million. We are a family owned business, led by the fourth generation of the Vernon family.