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Association Bisnow
October 20, 2008


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Jonathan Zuck heeded two pieces of advice from an entrepreneur coach's cassette tape: Get rid of your office, and spend most of your time doing what you do uniquely best. At 43-years-old, he's now the president of the 4000-corporate member Association for Competitive Technology, and, after visiting, we can assure you his office is nothing special, and he's quite adept at competitive technology.


See what we mean? Jonathan says Guitar Hero tourneys with normally starch-collared policy makers brings more than great Queen rock ballads: "Taking the lobbying hat off" gives ACT credibility. Association founder Mike Sax (yes, a descendent of Belgian saxophone inventor Adolph Sax) started ACT in '97 because he believed other tech trade associations were vulnerable to capture by big members. Therefore, ACT is led by a doctrine of principles rather than the agenda of its most powerful members. They are: 1) Less is more, in terms of industry regulation; 2) Oppose competitor driven regulation (ie, avoid becoming the telecom industry, where behemoth companies use regs against each other); 3) Intellectual property is key to an innovative economy. It's as easy as ABC. Or C-F-G if you're banging out chords.


While showing off ACT's server rack, Jonathan, who has a master's in international relations from SAIS, tells us he taught himself to program a computer at 12 on a TRS 80, Radio Shack's "Tandy" model (ah, the good old days). He says he's "not the geekiest of the geeks and not the wonkiest of the wonks," but a "bridge personality" because he's a techie who can relate to the layman. He used those skills this month to advocate for continued government oversight of ICANN. ACT's brand is supported by eBay, Oracle and Microsoft, though they're not members. But you may recognize some who are: RDA Consulting, GTSI, and Sax Software, to name a few.


With Mark Blafkin and Morgan Reed, Jonathan shows off his strong interest in rhetoric, debate, and dry erase. Though he's testified numerous times before Congress, he does have a favorite moment: In '05, he helped define "cookies" to legislators using a Cookie Monster puppet. The blue monster explained they are just numbers planted on your computer to identify you to different sites, not names and personal information. There's no truth to the rumor that a confused Ted Stevens subsequently sent Cookie Monster to Gitmo. Then again, if he did, would we know?

Georgetown University
Eng Garcia
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