Cliff presently serves as chairman of Starhold Corporation. Founded in early 2003, Starhold Corporation is a private venture investment and development company. Starhold focuses on creating business enterprises that can make a positive difference in the world, leveraging on new opportunities enabled by social and technological change.
Cliff also serves as executive director of Cityrocket, Inc. (d.b.a. MyCityRocks), a venture that is building a global brand helping people to have fun, give back to their community, and represent their pride and spirit in their part of the world. Cliff was recognized by the Houston chapter of the Entrepreneurs Organization as Entrepreneur of the Year for his work with MyCityRocks.
When Cliff was nine years old, Neil Armstrong first set foot on the moon, and Cliff set out to try to follow in his footsteps. Armstrongs giant leap for mankind gave Cliff a sense of vision that has since guided his career towards opening up new frontiers. Cliff went on to earn a Bachelor of Science degree (1981), summa cum laude, in Aerospace Engineering from the University of California at Los Angeles, and his Master of Science (1984) and Doctor of Philosophy (1988) degrees in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. This was followed by six years in Houston at Space Industries International, Inc., an entrepreneurial start-up focused on decreasing the costs and increasing the commercial potential of working in space. Cliff supported a variety of both technical and business development roles at the company, working on several commercial spacecraft programs and acting as one of the lead developers for an innovative spacecraft mission control center. During the time that Cliff was involved with the company, Space Industries expanded from 33 to 2700 people through growth and merger.
Cliffs less-than-perfect eyesight prevented him from making it into NASAs astronaut selection process, so in 1993 Cliff decided to found The Tenagra Corporation as his first independent venture, serving as President, CEO and Chairman of Tenagra. In early 1994 Tenagra joined the NASA Johnson Technology Commercialization Center, an incubator designed to help entrepreneurial companies spin NASA technology out into the commercial sector. Cliff immediately realized that businesses would soon be leveraging the power of the Internet to communicate their mission out to customers, much as NASA was already doing to convey its successes stories to the public. Cliff then transitioned careers, making the leap from outer space to cyberspace, and establishing Tenagra as the first Internet marketing and development firm in Houston. Tenagra supported a diverse client base including such notable organizations such as IBM, ING Group, Compaq, Unisys, EDS, Shell Chemical, NetIQ, US West, and Dynegy. Cliff's activities at Tenagra included designing the corporate mission, staffing the organization and its management, marketing the company, developing media relationships, creating financing strategies, acquiring clients, and, in 1998, performing the acquisition and integration of Internet Publicity Services, an online public relations firm based in the state of Washington.
Cliff quickly received international press coverage for Tenagras online activities, and became known as one of the founders of the emerging Internet marketing industry. He has been interviewed by and/or quoted in publications such as The New York Times, Internet World, Success, FORTUNE, Information Week, Washington Technology, the Houston Chronicle, the Houston Business Journal, and Interactive PR.
In 2001, Cliff received the Texas eComm Ten Award from the Texas Electronic Commerce Association, recognizing him as one of ten Texans behind the many facets of eCommerce driving the States business and economy. Cliff and Tenagra also received the Blue Chip Enterprise Award from Mass Mutual and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce recognizing inspirational achievement in business. In 2001, Tenagra was named to the Houston 100, recognizing the company for its sales growth over the period of 1998-2000, and the Fast Tech 50, recognizing the company as one of the fastest growing technology companies in Houston from 1999 to 2000.
Working with Canadian Year 2000 consultant Peter de Jager in 1995, Cliff created an online venture called The Year 2000 Information Center. This ground-breaking venture demonstrated how the Internet could be rapidly used to build a global community within the IT industry that brought together people with a problem to be solved (IT users) with people that had solutions (IT vendors). The venture effected change on a worldwide basis, playing a substantive role in enabling others to take the actions necessary to fix their software and prevent billions of dollars in damages that would otherwise have occurred. This venture also became one of the biggest success stories in advertising supported Internet publishing. For his part in this venture, Razor Magazine profiled Cliff in a February 2005 article as one of eighteen "newsmakers and shakers who witnessed some of the most defining moments of the past 40 years."
Other online campaigns on which Cliff has played a leadership role include building the first commercial on-line presence for Harley-DavidsonHarley-Davidson of Stamford, Connecticut, which led to Cliff being profiled as part of the 24 Hours in Cyberspace project (photo at right).
Cliff created the Internets premier online tennis publication and communityThe Tennis Server; and built the first Internet web site to provide real-time information transmitted from orbit by a commercial spacecraftThe Wake Shield Information Center. Cliff also founded and coordinated the annual Tenagra Awards for Internet Marketing Excellence program, a high-profile industry awards program which provided peer-review recognition of fundamental achievements in the Internet marketing industry on a worldwide basis. Cliff serves as moderator for the Online Advertising Discussion Listthe Internets leading online forum for the discussion of online advertising, public relations and publicity.
Cliff is currently a member of the Houston chapter of the Entrepreneurs Organization (EO), and serves on the board of directors of the organization. Cliff served as a founding member of the board of directors for the Association of Internet Professionals (AIP), an international society for the Internet professional services industry. Cliff was a founding member of the Steering Committee for the Emerging Business Council of the Greater Houston Partnership, and in its Technology Houston publication, the Greater Houston Partnership noted that [Blue Lance CEO Umesh] Verma and other entrepreneurs like Cliff Kurtzmanwho founded The Tenagra Corporation in 1993 as part of a NASA incubator and has shaped it into an internationally recognized Internet marketing agencycould well be poster children for Houstons rise as a technology center.
Cliff can be reached by e-mail at cliffk (at) kurtzman.biz, by phone at (281) 480-6300, or by using this form.