A Silicon Valley buccaneer who was host at a $12 million start-up party in Las Vegas just six months ago to mark the launch of his company, Pixelon.com, will be spending this weekend in the less than glamorous surroundings of a jail in his native Virginia.
David Adam Fenne, who billed his splashy dot com as the Internet's first online broadcast network, turned himself into police in Wise, Virginia, late on Wednesday.
For four years, it turned out, Fenne was on Virginia's most wanted list as a fugitive from the law. The secrets of Fenne are only now being revealed. His real name is David Stanley, who in 1989 pleaded guilty to 55 counts of taking money a fraud scheme in Virginia and in Tennessee. A judge gave him a suspended sentence to allow him time to refund his victims. But in 1996, he vanished.
With his new name, Stanley did what so many American outlaws had done before him. He made for the Wild West, which nowadays means dot com country. But what with raising $35 million for Pixelon from trusting investing and staging his outrageous Vegas party, he hardly kept a low profile.
Held at the MGM Grand, the event, dubbed 'iBash '99', featured performances by Tony Bennett and a rare reunion of The Who. Special tribute to Stanley and Pixelon was paid by Roger Daltrey.
Pixelon has since hit hard times. It parted ways with Stanley last November. Since then, it has also scaled back its ambitions, dropped plans to broadcast programming itself and focused on developing software for other broadcasters.
Nobody at Pixelon, however, could have anticipated such a surprise as this. "It's just absolutely shocking to everybody here," said Stephanie Kietzes, the company's chief lawyer. "We'll be conducting an investigation into exactly who this person is."
Stanley told the authorities that he decided to turn himself when he realised they were closing in on his Silicon Valley house. The sheriffs, at last, were riding into town.