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GirlGeek of the Week
July 2000

Alysia Abbott

Laura Allen

After a few years in book publishing and a year in traditional advertising, Laura Allen knew she had to make a break for the Web. She quit her agency and fled to San Francisco, hoping to figure out what to do with her life. To find the peace that her decision demanded she boarded a bus called "The Green Tortoise" and landed in Yosemite National Park. There, standing face to face with a beautiful waterfall, Laura decided never, ever to work at a job she couldn't love 100%.

Upon re-entering the real world, Laura submitted her resume to Shortly thereafter she became the first hire at Internet startup CheetahMail, a company that connects communities on the net via email. The company is now 20 strong and Laura is the director of marketing.

When did you first discover your love and/or obsession with computers and technology?

I became interested in the Internet in 1994 when I was working on my Master's Degree in Media Studies though The New School. It was an introductory class and while most of the other people in the class had computers and some sort of Internet access, I was still working on a Brother word processor because I was broke. I credit my professor, Hazen Reed, who is a co-founder of a Web design company called BitFlip, with giving me the confidence to learn about the Web. Before taking Hazen's class, I was one of those computer-phobic people who would rather throw the computer out the window than figure out how to use it.

In 1997, after a two year stint in book publishing, I started work at a small advertising agency which also offered Web development as one of its services. After just a year plus in traditional adverting, I knew that there was no future in old school advertising and knew that the Web was where it was at.

How do you earn a living?

Director of marketing for high tech startup CheetahMail.

Do you consider yourself a geek?

Yes, but only in the cool sense. There's no tape in the middle of my glasses.

What is your favorite website?

What do you do when you are not working?

Network via "Bernardo's list," go see live shows, hang out with my friends, work on my video project and of course surf the Web all day and night.

What's your motto?

Live every moment as if it were your last.

Who would play you in a movie about your life?

I'd choose one of the cool chicks with dyed hair that hang out in the East Village. Tattooed and cool, like me!

What would be the title of your autobiography?

Never say never.

Who is the person you most admire?

My mother. (how's THAT for geeky!! It's true too!!)

When and where were you the happiest?

On a hippy bus called the Green Tortoise with 31 strangers in Yosemite.

If you could have one super power what would it be?

I just wanna fly. Although x-ray vision would be a close second.


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