For Microsoft, Tellme is not a complete outsider. In fact, it was started by people from companies least likely to be found in the same room — rivals Microsoft and Netscape.
"Microsoft was our arch-nemesis, but one of the first guys we hired was Hadi Partovi," said Tellme co-founder Angus Davis. At the time, Partovi was helping lead the Internet Explorer effort at Microsoft, while McCue and Davis were doing the same at Netscape. The three stayed on similar paths, so when Partovi acted as a technical assistant to Microsoft attorneys during the company's landmark antitrust case, so were McCue and Davis at Netscape.
To solidify the Microsoft and Netscape connection, Partovi, McCue and Davis brought their bosses on board to fund the company. For McCue and Davis, that was Netscape CEO Jim Barksdale. Partovi brought Brad Silverberg, a senior executive who was just leaving Microsoft to start Ignition Partners, a Bellevue-based venture firm.