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Young Millionaires
Comments () | Published July 8, 2009

Initial public-stock offerings are creating sudden wealth, but the entrepreneurs we talked with say they're not in it for the money.

"I think it's true of any entrepreneur--we do this because it's in our blood," says Roger Mody. "This is not work."

It's easy for someone with money to say money isn't important. So how has striking it rich affected the lives of local entrepreneurs?

To be sure, there are more calls from stockbrokers, charities, and other entrepreneurs looking for funding. But the CEOs we talked with live busy but surprisingly simple lives.

For some, that's because they still roll profits back into their companies--they're millionaires on paper only. Those who do reward themselves do so sparingly--a new car, maybe a new house, but usually not monthlong vacations on the Riviera.

Jim Kenefick thinks that's a reflection of both the 1990s' supposed yearning for simplicity and the age of these entrepreneurs.

"Where maybe in the past, everyone had to be seen and be heard--'Hey, I'm Mr. Important and I want you to know that'--today people couldn't care less. There's always a few who want to have the fanfare, who want to have the chauffeur, but I think for the majority, they don't want fame."

"I think also some wealth has come at such an early age that it's not easy to handle. It's not like they spend 50 years getting this and--'I've arrived and I want everyone to know I've arrived.' A lot of people say, 'Hey, look at what happened to me in three years. I think I'm very fortunate.' Fortunate is the word. It's not, 'I'm the smartest, I'm the best.' I'm fortunate--and I'd rather keep that to myself because who knows if that opportunity will come around again."

Raul Fernandez agrees that the newer high-tech culture is different from Washington's K Street establishment.

"There's less focus, I think, from the entrepreneurs in the high-tech space than some of the traditional wealth in dining at the Prime Rib or being seen at some of the places that, frankly, we couldn't get into because we were in blue jeans."

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Posted at 12:00 AM/ET, 07/08/2009 RSS | Print | Permalink | Comments () | Washingtonian.com Articles