Georges Daou is a serial entrepreneur, a man blessed with acute business instincts, a knack for figuring out where there’s a need, and figuring out the best way to fill it.
In the late 1980s, he and his younger brother, Daniel, formed Daou Systems Inc., a provider of computer network systems to the health care industry. At its peak in 1998, the company had revenues in excess of $100 million and more than 700 employees, and was a Nasdaq highflier.
But in the wake of the tech wreck that began in 2000, spending on information systems collapsed, and Daou had to shrink down to survive. The Daou brothers were out of the daily management by 1999, and Georges sold his stake in the firm about two years ago.
In November 2002, he and Daniel launched another high-tech venture, Digital Orchid, based on their bet that cell phone owners would soon desire more from their phones than simple phone call capability.
The company, which attracted about $12 million in venture capital investment, provides branded wireless applications to phone owners such as results of NASCAR races and other news for the stock car racing association. This year, the 25-person company is on track to reach more than $5 million in revenues, Daou said.
Born in Beirut, Lebanon, the Paris of the Middle East, Daou moved to the real Paris as a 13-year-old, and immigrated to this country in 1980. The UC San Diego graduate, now a U.S. citizen, speaks four languages: English, French, Arabic and Spanish.
A world traveler, Daou offers this simple and clearly stated assessment of alternate lands and systems: There is no place on the planet that can match the freedom and opportunity that exists in the United States.
Name: Georges Daou.
Company: Digital Orchid.
Education: Bachelor of Science and Master of Science, both in electrical engineering and both from UC San Diego.
Residence: Rancho Santa Fe.
Birthplace: Beirut, Lebanon.
Essential business philosophy: Get there first.
Best way to keep a competitive edge: Anticipating where things are going, and thinking ahead. When you’re a small company, you can’t afford multimillion-dollar studies to this. Think like a consumer and where the world is going to be so when it gets there, you’ll be ready to serve your customers.
Guiding principles: Integrity.
Yardstick of success: Ensuring a return to my shareholders.
Goals yet to be achieved: Becoming the dominant global player in the wireless entertainment industry.
Best business decision: Coming to the United States, and particularly to San Diego.
Worst business decision: Hanging on to people when they don’t perform.
Toughest business decision: Signing a licensing agreement with NASCAR before we got the company started and had a product. There were a lot of unknowns and it was a huge gamble, but I’m so glad we did it.
Biggest missed opportunity: Not buying several different pieces of property in Southern California when I had the chance.
Mentors: My father and mother, Joseph and Marie Daou.
Word that describes you: Persistent.
Reason for getting into the wireless business: The huge upside in opportunity in selling services to a potential market of 1.7 billion cell phone users globally. Just getting a small percentage of that market would translate to success.
What you like best about the wireless business: Every single cell phone is a vending machine that can provide users with much more than the ability to make a phone call.
What you like least about the wireless business: The slow adoption rate for certain wireless services by some users.
How the wireless business has changed: Consumers are a lot more demanding about the variety of services and capabilities of their cell phones.
Pet peeves: Pettiness, hypocrisy.
Most important lesson learned: You cannot change people. They only can change themselves.
Person most interested in meeting, living or dead: Moses.
Most-respected competitor: Jamdat, another wireless application provider based in Los Angeles.
Three greatest passions: My family, polo and golf.
First choice for a new career: Cinematographer.
I’m currently reading:
The Wall Street Journal.
Favorite quote/saying: “If it’s going to be, it’s up to me!” I just heard this recently and I like it.
Favorite cause: American Cancer Society.
Most influential book: The Bible.
Favorite movie: “Mon Oncle d’Ameri & #173;que.”
Favorite restaurant: Japengo in La Jolla.
Favorite place for business meetings: Golf course.
Favorite vacation spot: St. Tropez in the French Riviera.
Favorite way to spend time: With Melissa, my fianc & #233;e.
My automobile: 2003 Mercedes-Benz CL 600.
Favorite place to go in San Diego: Bridges Country Club in Rancho Santa Fe.