ProQuo’s Founding CEO Takes a Sabbatical to Teach at Cornell

5/1/09Follow @bvbigelow

Steven Gal, who founded San Diego-based ProQuo to help consumers control their personal information and reduce their junk mail, bid a fond farewell in an e-mail blast this afternoon.

“I can’t say I saw this economic nuclear winter coming last year when I decided to take a sabbatical from tech startups and return to teaching after 13 years away,” Gal wrote. “It has been a roller coaster transition, but I am pleased that ProQuo’s new leader, Bob Nascenzi (former COO of TargusInfo) is now well on board. Today is my last day as CEO of ProQuo, and I will be remaining on the Board of Directors.”

Gal says he’ll be teaching entrepreneurship at Cornell University’s Johnson School of Management in Ithaca, NY. But he plans to return to San Diego in a year.

Before he started ProQuo in 2007, Gal was a co-founder of San Diego’s ID Analytics, which analyzes consumer transactions for telltale signs of fraud. He worked there in various executive capacities.

ProQuo’s free online service enables consumers to review various mass-market mailing lists (for coupons, credit cards, catalogs, etc.) and decide with a click of the mouse what junk mail they really want to receive. In effect, it gives consumers a way to selectively customize their mailing list so they only get the catalogs they want, which also happens to make each list a more targeted—and valuable—marketing tool. ProQuo, which makes money by selling the customized lists, says consumers can reduce their unwanted junk mail by 50 to 90 percent within a few months. The startup has received a total of $15 million in venture capital from Draper Fisher Jurvetson of Menlo Park, CA, San Diego’s Mission Ventures, and Western Technology Investment, a venture lender in San Jose, CA.

Gal says he’s excited about the change of scenery, and so is his family.

“My family and I are excited about our upcoming adventure,” Gal writes. “It is a privilege on so many levels—to return to my undergrad alma mater to teach, to get the opportunity to think, work and study with students and faculty again during the very interesting times in which we live—and to introduce my kids who don’t own long pants to a real winter.”

What he doesn’t say is whether he’s told his shorts-only kids that snowfall in Ithaca averages 120 inches a year.

Bruce V. Bigelow is the editor of Xconomy San Diego. You can e-mail him at bbigelow@xconomy.com or call (619) 669-8788 Follow @bvbigelow

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  • Scott

    Another fine reporting job, Mr. Bigelow. Keep up the good work.