Home Back Issues December 2010 Mark Frohnmayer builds a Utopian empire in Eugene

Mark Frohnmayer builds a Utopian empire in Eugene

| Print |  Email
Articles - December 2010
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Article Index
Mark Frohnmayer builds a Utopian empire in Eugene
Page 2
Page 3; Reader Comments
STORY BY KRISTEN HALL-GEISLER // PHOTOS BY LEAH NASH

 

1210_Eugene01
From inner peace to outer action: Eugene entrepreneur Mark Frohnmayer teaches yoga at Studio 508.

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.”

 



 

More Articles

College Hacker

September 2014
Wednesday, August 27, 2014
BY KLINT FINLEY

Treehouse CEO Ryan Carson builds a 21st-century trade school.


Read more...

Grape Expectations

October 2014
Thursday, September 25, 2014
BY HANNAH WALLACE

Well-financed outsiders from France and California are buying up vineyards and wineries in the Willamette Valley.


Read more...

A Good Leap Forward

September 2014
Wednesday, August 27, 2014
BY AMY MILSHTEIN

Agriculture businesses ramp up to meet international demand as workforce and succession challenges loom.


Read more...

Portland rises

News
Monday, August 18, 2014

IMG 2551Portland is in the middle of another construction boom, with residential and office projects springing up downtown, in the Pearl and Old Town. OB Web Editor Jessica Ridgway documents the new wave.


Read more...

Two sides of the coin

Contributed Blogs
Monday, August 25, 2014
0825 thumb moneyBY JASON NORRIS | OB GUEST BLOGGER

Ferguson Wellman’s investment views on the economy and capital markets.


Read more...

Podcast: Interview with Pete Friedes

Contributed Blogs
Wednesday, August 27, 2014

082714-thumb friedesbookTom Cox interviews Pete Friedes, author of "The 2R Manager," about becoming a Best Boss.


Read more...

Knight Vision

October 2014
Thursday, September 25, 2014
BY VIVIAN MCINERNY

Travis Knight wants to release a movie a year. Can he pull it off?


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS