Nathaniel S. Borenstein

PO Box 125
Greenbush, Michigan 48738         Cell: (734) 926-9672          Fax: (978) 336-5359

An abridged version of this resume is at


• ScD. (honoris causa), Grinnell College, 2013.
• Ph.D., Computer Science, Carnegie Mellon University, 1985.
• M.S., Computer Science, Carnegie Mellon University, 1981.
• B.A., Mathematics & Religious Studies, Grinnell College, 1980.
• Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel, 1978-79.
• Deep Springs College, California, 1975-76.
• Ohio State University, 1974-75.

Awards, Recognition, and Professional Activities

• IBM Distinguished Engineer, 2002.
• Named "a geek's geek" by Salon Magazine, 2001.
• First Robert Noyce Visiting Professor, Grinnell College, 1998-99.
• Who's Who in The World, Who's Who in America, Who's Who in Science and Engineering, Who's Who in Finance and Industry, 1997-present.
• Named as one of the "Websight 100" 1996-97.
• Profiled in "Tricks of the Internet Gurus", 1994.
• NYU Olive Branch Award, 1990.
• General Electric Fellow, 1983.
• National Science Foundation Fellow, 1980-83.
• Phi Beta Kappa, 1980.
• Grinnell College President's Medalist, 1980.
• Past President/Director, Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility.
• Past Director, Institute for Global Communication.
• Contributor, Encyclopedia of Microcomputers.
• Editorial Advisory Board, Communications of the ACM.
• Chairman, 2000 CPSR Conference, "Nurturing the Cybercommons".
• Chairman, 1994 IFIP Conference, "Message Handling Systems".
• Reviewer, 1989/90 ACM/IEEE Undergraduate CS Curriculum.
• Reviewer for NSF, numerous journals, conferences, and publishers.


I am the author of three books, 13 patents, and numerous articles; a partial listing of my publications can be found at

References available upon request.

Employment History

2010-present:  Chief Scientist, Mimecast, London, UK

Responsibilities and Achivements

• Coordinate long-term technical strategy and research
• Design and Implement an intellectual property strategy
• Represent the company in technical standards bodies
• Represent the company's technical team externally

2002-2010:  Chief Open Standards Strategist and Distinguished Engineer
                          IBM Corporation, Cambridge, Massachusetts

Responsibilities and Achivements

• Administration of multimillion dollar research budget.
• Oversight of all standards efforts for Lotus division.
• Served on Open Document Format standards committee.
• Initiated several new IETF standards efforts in calendaring and scheduling and spam-control.

2000-2002:  Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, 2001-2002
                     Founder and Chief Scientist, 2000-2001
                     NETPOS.COM, Ann Arbor, Michigan

Key achievements:

• On a tight budget, built a complete team, technology, and product that is thriving five years later.
• Developed, deployed, and patented a pioneering solution to a well-known impediment to Internet services.
Lessons learned:
• Timing is everything.
• Cash is king.

I built a world-class Internet development team that, in just four months, built and deployed the world's first Internet-native Point-of-Sale system for retail use. In the process, we invented and filed for a patent that enables the reliable provision of mission-critical services via the Internet Application Service Provider (ASP) model. The company's pioneering technology was recognized with an achievement award at the 2001 Food Service Technology Conference.

Unfortunately, our timing was poor; we formed an Internet company seeking venture capital at the exact moment when such investments fell out of favor. When I was asked to take over as CEO in 2001, I faced a radically different entrepreneurial environment than I knew from First Virtual. Of necessity I learned a great deal about business economics and survival strategies. I sold a controlling interest in the company in 2002, and the company has slowly grown and flourished since then.

1998-2003:  Visiting Professor and Research Fellow
             University of Michigan School Of Information, Ann Arbor, Michigan

Key achievements:
• Obtained critical research funding.
• Taught courses.
• Advised students.
Lesson learned:
• Why are academic politics so tough? Because the stakes are so low!

When I first joined the faculty, I undertook the assignment of providing faculty oversight to the Internet Public Library, an extremely popular student-driven institution that was on the verge of insolvency. I found sponsorship funding that secured the IPL's existence for several years.

As a faculty member, I taught courses and advised graduate students, particularly in the areas of User Interface Design and Electronic Commerce. I also found that, returning to academia after many years, I missed the kinds of challenges I had found in the business world. I reduced my university committment to part-time when I founded NetPOS in 2001.

1994-1998:  Founder and Chief Scientist
                     First Virtual Holdings, Inc., San Diego, California

Key achievements:

• Invented and developed revolutionary payment technology.
• Built a company up through an IPO and beyond.
• Authored 3 patents.
Lessons learned:
• Be flexible in your business model.
• Avoid turf wars with large institutions.

First Virtual is recognized by the Smithsonian Institution as "the first cyberbank." In 1994, we were the first company to connect the Internet to the world of banking networks, using innovative "closed loop" email technology to enhance security while allowing virtually anyone to be an Internet merchant. The company also built a pioneering email-based on-line customer support system, and provided most of the features of both eBay and PayPal before those companies existed.

Widely scrutinized by the press, financial institutions, and security experts, the company experienced several years of exponential growth with hundreds of thousands of customers and virtually no down time. Early rounds of investment came from leading institutions such as First Data, First USA, and GE Capital, leading to a successful IPO in 1996. In addition to leading the invention and development of the company's technology, I took primary responsibility for the company's intellectual property, ultimately producing three fundamental e-commerce and email patents.

The company's business model was eventually undermined by the credit card associations, which changed the rules to favor their preferred vision of Internet payment mechanisms. With the writing on the wall for our payment system, we effected a complete change in the company's mission and product line to become MessageMedia, an early leader in email marketing technology and campaigns. I left the company in 1998, after this transition was complete, to return to academia. MessageMedia was acquired by DoubleClick in late 2001.

1989-1994:  Member of Technical Staff
                     Bell Communciations Research (Bellcore),
                     Morristown, New Jersey

Key achievements:

• MIME: the Internet standard for rmultimedia data.
• Metamail: open source software still used on millions of machines.
• ATOMICMAIL, Safe-Tcl, and numerous publications.
Lessons learned:
• Technology is the easy part.
• Interpersonal relationships are what change the world.
• Like it or not, patents are too valuable for a business to neglect.

For five years, I was a researcher in Bellcore's Interpersonal Communications Group. I had a broad mandate and nearly total freedom to study the use of computers and networks to enhance interpersonal communication, and published more than a dozen research papers.

My signal accomplishment while at Bellcore was to lead the Internet community, under the auspices of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), to develop the open data interchange standard that ultimately became known as MIME (Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions). Today, every email message, every web page on the Internet, and every modern version of a Microsoft operating systems use MIME.

While at Bellcore, I was also the author of the "metamail" software package, an open source implementation of the MIME standard. Metamail or parts thereof are still running on millions of machines worldwide.

I also defined and implemented two special-purpose "active email" programming languages while I was at Bellcore, known as ATOMICMAIL and Safe-Tcl. Both of these were languages that permitted interactive programs to be sent around via email without permitting viruses or other hostile applications.

Unfortunately for everyone who uses email, Bellcore never commercialized or widely distributed the active email technology. Moreover, Bellcore failed to patent active email or many other fundamental inventions from its laboratories during the years right before the Internet boom. In retrospect I believe that Bellcore's poor patent strategy probably cost its shareholders hundreds of millions of dollars.

Despite my successes in open standards and free software, I was disappointed at Bellcore's failure to exploit the commercial potential of new technologies. It was my frustration with the difficulty of turning good research inventions into successful commercial products that led me to leave Bellcore and become an entrepreneur.

1985-1989:  Manager of Applications Development, 1988-1989
                     System Designer, 1985-1988
                     Information Technology Center, Carnegie Mellon University,
                     Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Key achievement:
• Built the world's first widely-used multimedia email system.
Lessons learned:
• Nothing beats seeing other people use and enjoy the product of your work.
• You don't have to do something just because you're good at it.

The Andrew project was an ambitious early effort to develop a graphical computing environment for general use. My role in the project was to use the project's core tools to develop a "flagship" application, the Andrew Message System (AMS). AMS was the first multimedia email system to see more than token laboratory use, and its direct influence included inspiring Steve Jobs to make multimedia email a key application of his NeXT computer. (Later in their life cycles, both Andrew and NeXTmail were converted to use MIME as their data format, at which point users of the two systems were finally able to exchange multimedia data with each other by email.)

In my last year at Carnegie Mellon, I was given my first taste of technical management, overseeing a team of programmers producing applications of the Andrew tool suite. While I enjoyed managing and was reasonably successful, I concluded that I did not yet want to be a full-time manager, and eventually left for a research job at Bellcore.

1983-1985:  Founder and Vice President for Technology
                     Soft Cellars, Inc., Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Key achievement:
• Developed a suite of applications for low-end microcomputers.
Lesson learned:
• Great technology cannot succeed unless it fills a customer need.

Soft Cellars was a small software company that a few friends and I formed while I was in graduate school. We -- primarily I -- developed a basic database system and a suite of educational games for low end computers such as the Commodore Vic-20, Texas Instruments 99/4A, and similar systems.

Ultimately, there did not turn out to be a market for the kind of software we were providing on these low-end computers. The only difference between our little company and the bigger players in this market was the amount of money wasted before this truth became apparent. Ever since, before investing substantial time and effort into a problem, I have first tried to assure myself that its solution would be important enough for someone to actually pay for it.