Newsday Feature Story
James Bernstein is a longtime business writer for Newsday.
Photos by Newsday photographer Randee Daddona.
Risk-taker’s payoff was in the cards
March 4, 2012 10:45 PM By JAMES BERNSTEIN, Newsday
CardBrowser founder Steve Morgan, of Northport, says he has about 500,000 business cards stored in the company database.
Steve Morgan is a dropout from corporate America and never went to college. Yet, his company is doing close to seven figures annually — off business cards.
And Morgan, 47, is doing it all out of an old, two-story barn in the back of his house in Northport, overlooking the harbor.
“I took a big risk,” he said last week, talking of the time in 1999 when he left McAfee Inc., a California-based software company, where he was a product vice president working on Long Island. He was making a good salary. He then had two kids (now five). Even his parents, Morgan said, tried to talk him out of leaving McAfee.
But, he said, “I knew there was a lot of opportunity on the Internet. I asked myself what was the hardest thing I had to do in the software industry. It was hiring sales guys.” To find salespeople, “I’d go to these trade shows. I would just circulate and meet people. I knew our competitors were sending the best people. I asked myself, ‘How can I take this and put it online?’ ”
That’s how his business, CardBrowser, was born.
The company collects business cards at conferences and conventions across the country. Last year the company, using about 40 hired hands, attended 400 shows or job fairs.
The cards are electronically stored in a huge database that is sold on a subscription basis to companies looking to hire people or to make business contacts. Customers pay CardBrowser an annual $3,500 fee to go online to look at the cards. For $10,000 annually, they can also download the cards.
Morgan said CardBrowser has about 950 customers. In 2004 CardBrowser had about 15,000 cards online. Now it has about 500,000.
Morgan said sales are “approaching” seven figures a year.
He never went to college. After graduating Bayside High School in Queens, he attended a trade school and then got a job with a computer retailer.
His parents, Morgan said, don’t bother him anymore about his career path. “Now they just think I’m an entrepreneur who does wacky things.”