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Firmage quits to study UFOs:

In January, Silicon Valley legend Joe Firmage quit his job as the CEO of USWeb/CKS, a $2 billion company that employs nearly 2,000 people. The reason: He’s had contact with extraterrestrials and wants to expose the government conspiracy to conceal a 1947 space crash in Roswell, N.M. This part of my web site is intended to study what Joe Firmage is up to.

The Fox Mulder of Silicon Valley:

Silicon Valley CEO Joe Firmage turned UFO evangelist. He does not seem crazy. His words in interwiews do not echo like the proclamations of a zealot but rather are delivered in a controlled, deliberate, boardroom fashion. They sound like the words of a man who was forming a strategy for building Web sites one day - and forming a strategy for a techno-spiritual evolution the next. Somehow, Firmage's manner makes the progression seem natural.

Joe Firmage

The man's story:

Joseph P. Firmage, 28, founded USWeb, a leading Internet consulting firm, in 1995. Like his previous ventures, the company prospered wildly. For fiscal 1998, USWeb posted revenue of $228 million - a 100% increase over the previous year.

During that year of intense growth, Joe Firmage was moonlighting - working on the Kairos Project, a Web site and book (due this summer) about human evolution and extraterrestrials. Word got out. In January, Firmage posted his 700-page manifesto, called "The Truth", which evokes both Star Trek and the New Testament. In the manifesto, Firmage asserts that extraterrestrials not only have visited us, but also have influenced our technological development.

A few days later, he resigned from USweb.

Firmage beliefs:

Some words from Joe:

"You are a homo sapiens animal, sitting at the top of an 8,000-mile-wide clump of geology, staring into an electronic communications system called 'the Internet'... 2,000 revolutions around this globe since the birth of a man named Jesus. That's a more accurate picture of you in the eyes of the cosmos right now."

"I've been very open to the media for 10 years now in a business context, I've given nobody reason to question my sanity until six months ago. I'm just starting to get the PR structure to deal with the media."

"The evidence for UFOs in our skies is staggeringly good, though it is immersed amongst a mass of Barnes & Noble "New Age" fantasy. Check out the recommended reading list on my site, for a reference to books that should be read before jumping to the conclusion that I am "slightly crazy"."

"The reality of what we have called "Unidentified Flying Objects" is dependent upon one concept alone: that life at some point across the Cosmos can develop a means of propulsion superior to strapping itself to controlled firecrackers (rockets) and jet turbines. If this is true, then the likelihood of 'extraterrestrial visitation' in human history is virtually certain."

"What happens in the history of a world when its most advanced beings for the first time gain the power to break through its own gravity well?" Joe Firmage asks. "I'll tell you what it's called; it's called birth. If Earth is a living being, and we are created by the Earth, and we one day gain that power, the power to touch the fabric of space-time itself, and use it, tap it, to voyage - is that not literally a birth? And is not the history of humanity an incredible drum roll to the opening of the first real frontier? That's the vision that I see."

So is he a "crackpot," as USWeb/CKS (the companies merged shortly before Firmage left) board member Gary Reischel recently pronounced him, summing up what he'd heard from colleagues and investors? Or is he a maverick entrepreneur with disturbing ideas who is paying with his credibility for the strength of his convictions?

Short biography:

Firmage was born and raised in Salt Lake City, where his family belonged to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints ("It's a very cosmic thing," he says of the Mormon church). After finishing high school in a mere two years, a scholarship in physics led him to the University of Utah. Firmage left college in 1989 after his sophomore year to form his first venture: Serius, which began as a Macintosh program for his mother's greeting card business and quickly grew into a database software company. Result? "Within six months," Firmage says, Serius "closed $7 million" in revenue.

In 1993, Firmage sold the company to Novell Inc. for $24 million and a vice presidency. In 1995, he left to found USWeb.

According to Novell public relations manager Jonathan Cohen, the company considered Firmage a "valued contributor... We wouldn't comment on his beliefs or cultural activities."

Quitting USWeb to study UFOs:

He reported a vision early one morning in 1997, shortly before USWeb's initial public offering. A mysterious figure clad in white hovered over his bed, he recalls. The two shared a brief conversation about space-time travel. When asked by the visitor why he should be given the chance to travel in space, Firmage said, "because I'm willing to die for it."

The following year was "the busiest time of my professional life," he says. "I held a 12-hour-per-day job at USWeb, with Kairos [the UFO project] growing to four to six hours per day. I had a simple system: daytime: USWeb; evening: Kairos."

A year after the visit, Firmage posted his manuscript online. A media flood followed. Then came investor jitters. "For the record, I chose to step down," Firmage says. "And off the record, I chose to step down. That's the truth. I was not forced out. Now, had I not chosen to step down, I could well have been forced out. I've been 10 years in this valley. I know how the game is played."

Is there no room for visions like his in Silicon Valley? "I would like the answer to be yes. But right now ... no." Maybe that's why, Firmage claims, there are several Silicon Valley leaders hiding their own belief in extraterrestrials (he declines several times to mention names). Why the need to remain quiet? "Well, look what happened to me."

Borderline physics:

Firmage studies zero-point energy and gravitational propulsion. Those controversial theories of physics underpin Firmage's belief in space-time travel. Zero-point energy refers to a theory that energy can be created from nothing, rather than matter. Gravitational propulsion is based on the concept that the force of gravity can not only be harnessed, but also engineered. Combined, the two provide the foundation for spacecraft capable of warp speeds.

Firmage's beliefs have backers. John Peterson, a futurist and head of the Arlington Institute, a nonprofit research group in Arlington, Va., is adamant about zero-point energy. "There's no question but that it's real." And Charles Ostman, senior fellow at the San Francisco-based Institute for Global Futures, says that, in 25 to 50 years, "we probably will have things like antigravity travel, time-space continuum manipulation - all the usual precursors to getting around the universe."

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This page was last updated on May 4, 2001.