Entropia (Inc.)

A startup company that began as a project run from a spare bedroom of my former Silicon Valley home and a 166 Mhz PC on a shelf at a friend's ISP, and a great .COM era story.

Entropia was a small software company funded by venture capital in December 1999. Its software products power distributed computing grid applications in biotech, financial, chemistry, materials, and other fields. According to the October 2002 PC Labs Editor's Review, Entropia is a grid computing market leader and the product received their 5 star rating.

Entropia has evolved enormously over the years. The original 1996 concept was a foundation for intellectual community, then a business idea incubator (one idea of which was distributed computing), and by 1998 was entirely a distributed computing software and Internet computing grid service. In 1999 Brad Bernard took on operations responsibilities which freed me to develop the business. After recruiting A.Chien in October 1999 and L.Smarr a month later, Entropia received its first venture capital investment of several million bucks. Then we relocated company and family from San Jose to San Diego, and the rest you can read on the company's web site.

I owe a debt of gratitude to George Woltman for signing up his Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search  (GIMPS) project as the prototype Entropia customer. At first I was an email-only GIMPS participant, when Woltman's project was brought to my attention by my friend Greg Yenney. Later George and I implemented opposite sides of an API exposed by an Entropia DLL in the client software. We named the GIMPS Entropia application 'PrimeNet', one of the first world-wide distributed computing grids.

Like most big projects, I started Entropia with a lot of optimism and hard work. Then years of gradual progress and continued work. I sought venture capital in 1997 and 1998 but was told by a Sand Hill venture capital firm that distributed computing, though exciting, was too early. Finally the whirlwind of events following a venture investment in 2000 with various victories and important lessons learned. As a founding shareholder I retain a keen interest in the company's progress, even though I've moved onto other work. Thanks to everyone having ever shared the enthusiasm of working at Entropia.

Entropia Facts

  • entropia.com Internet domain name registered April 1996, named by Sharon Telljohn
  • founded 1997 in San Jose, California, in my home
  • legal incorporation March 1999, originally as Entropia.com, Inc., using forms from the California Chamber of Commerce
  • first corporate bank account - Bank of Santa Clara, CA, Campbell branch 
  • funded by $30 million in venture capital
  • at its peak, about 120 employees in San Diego, CA and London, England
  • other incubated business ideas previously operated on web site:
    • Entropia community, Entropia Foundation, Entropia consulting services, Entropia Internet Digital Notary Service, Entropia Public Certificate Authority (fully registered in Cambridge Global Trust), and Entropia Distributed Technologies
  • created and operated PrimeNet grid of over 200,000 computers for first (pro bono) customer, Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search (1997), as proof-of-concept technology demo; operated from April 1999 by Brad Bernard and to present by Brad & Entropia team.
  • initially hosted at Grendelnet / RealityNetworks, Inc. in Campbell, California (San Jose area) by Brent Haines.
  • first Entropia grid server - Pentium 166 Mhz PC running NT 4.0 on a T1 line
  • version 1.0 distributed computing software released supporting PrimeNet March 1997
  • version 2.0 distributed computing software released with PrimeNet, downloaded for testing on 100 enterprise LANs May 1997
  • initial public Internet operations July 1997, first 100 computers on Internet grid came from Europe, running version 2.0 software
  • original company mascot - guinea pig named Petey, but Micro was more photogenic and got into the lobby photo
  • games played between work late at night to stay awake - Quake, Quake II, Unreal, Half-Life, Team Fortress Classic

Entropia goodies

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Last updated 2 December 2001