The Web was in its infancy when Mike Mann formed Internet Interstate in 1994. Few people at the time knew what the Internet would become. Anticipating that businesses would soon need Web development services and high-speed Internet, Mann cobbled together a regional Internet service provider in Washington, D.C., by purchasing a patchwork of smaller ISPs in the area.
Internet Interstate focused on serving Washington’s commercial sector. At the time, AOL already had millions of subscribers. Seeing deficiencies in AOL’s “closed system,” which lacked a gateway to the Internet, Mann said Internet Interstate let users easily access the Web. The early text Web eventually transitioned to graphics, so Internet Interstate began building Web pages and sites that connected businesses via ISPN lines, T1 lines and modems.
Internet Interstate was sold to Verio in 1997 for several million dollars. After gobbling up many smaller Internet service providers, Verio went public in 1998, which allowed principals in the company to make a fortune. Eventually, Verio was acquired by Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corporation, one of Japan’s largest telephone companies.