At 30, Michael Serbinis has already experienced more of the vicissitudes of the business world than some people do in a lifetime. He is the author of several patents related to Internet security, and in 1997 he co-founded a Web-based company called DocSpace, which he and his partners sold in late 1999 at the height of the Internet boom. The deal – with Critical Path, a San Francisco software company – required Serbinis to stay on for at least a year as chief technology officer. “At the end of that year, things blew up,” says Serbinis. Critical Path’s stock, which had once traded above $100 US a share, suddenly fell to 30 cents.
“I viewed the company, the technology, the people as all being good things, good assets,” says Serbinis, explaining why he chose to stay on. Critical Path underwent a major restructuring and was reinvented successfully as a software consultancy. Now that the tech market is finally looking up, Serbinis is travelling almost nonstop to drum up business in Europe and Asia, two of Critical Path’s hottest markets.
Serbinis credits his studies at U of T with helping him cope with the ups and downs. He studied while working full time, and earned his MSc in engineering in 2001. His supervisor and chemical engineering professor, Joe Paradi, became a friend who helped him through the dark days. “Morally, financially and in all respects he was a huge influence,” says Serbinis. “It’s been a hell of a ride.”