Bien Logic, Inc. was one of the first interactive marketing agencies based in San Diego, California. In the mid-1990s it was also the largest such company. It pioneered several innovations in web development and internet software industry. Throughout the years 1993 to 1997, over 80 professionals worked at Bien Logic in San Diego, Orange County and Los Angeles. Many of these designers, programmers, account and sales executives, managers went on to start other companies that continue to exist and thrive today, especially SiteLab and Netrics.
Early years: 1993-1994
Bien Logic was founded in February 1993 by Frederic Bien in collaboration with Michel Delory, George Geller and Dina Tsoukas. Peter Yianilos, an inventor of spell-checking products, founder of Proximity Inc. and former President of Franklin Electronic Publishers, was the first angel investor in the company. The initial plan was to create educational software for handheld digital books and personal digital assistants. As an associate professor of mathematics at UCSD, Frederic Bien was encouraged by Chancellor Dick Atkinson and by Professor Pat Suppes at Stanford University; both co-founders of CCC (Computer Curriculum Corporation) then owned by Simon & Schuster. After a well-received presentation to Simon & Schuster CEO Dick Snyder who was an early believer in handheld electronic books, CCC's CEO Ron Fortune gave a substantial contract to Bien Logic in 1993 to develop the first educational digital book on the eBook/BOOKMAN platform of Franklin. Within a few months, Bien Logic delivered two prototype products: MatchCoach (for Simon & Schuster) and SpanishCoach (for Apple Newton). However, faced on one hand with the low consumer adoption of these early digital books, and on the other with the acquisition of Simon & Schuster by Viacom who had a different strategic plan, Bien Logic changed direction in mid-1994, and started developing websites and interactive marketing programs for various clients.
Web development 1994-1997
The first commercial success was the launch of the website for University Towne Center. This website was inaugurated in May 1995 by San Diego Mayor Susan Golding, who called it the "largest expansion in history for this major shopping center". On stage, Joan Embery who then hosted a popular TV show about animals was holding a parrot in her hands, which pressed the Enter key of a computer keyboard, and pulled the UTC home page for the first time on the web. This project won the 1995 Award for Best Overall Marketing Campaign for shopping centers of over 1 million square feet (90,000 m²) from the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC); Stacy Armstrong received the award for UTC.
Following ShopUTC.com were a number of noteworthy websites for Pearl Jam (rock band), Baker & McKenzie (law firm) and First Virtual Holdings (email-based secure online payment system). Bien Logic initial key staff were UCSD students and friends: Carlos Madrid, Uyen Nguyen, Marc Northover, Mike ZeMans, Tony Graham, musician/system administrator Trevor Henthorn, designers/programmers Teresa Shaw and Ruby Wong, and the unstoppable Bob Adams in business development. Later joined 4 savvy executives: Kevin McDermott (ops mgt), Charles Gillespie (PR & proposals), Jack Abbott (sales), Jeanric Meller (biz dev). Bien Logic established a well-defined 12-Step Process to design, produce and launch websites and interactive marketing campaigns; this process was at the core of its commercial success.
The firm continued to grow developing larger projects for Trizec-Hahn Company (shopping centers), San Diego Zoo, Sempra Energy (then called SDG&E), Lucent Technologies, Saturn Cars, CaliforniaMart, Procopio (large law firm), California Avocado Commission, Apparel News for MnM Publishing and many others.
As the company grew into the premier developer of websites in Southern California, other people joined, including Marlene Matheson (sales), Dana Todd and Joe Eibert (account executives), Lane Sharman (chief technology officer), Victor Spindler (creative director), Victoria Battison (public relations), Becky Savell (editorial management), Marc Koob (former CEO, Chicken of the Sea) and Adrian Stewart (COO), Troy Troxler (project mgt), and more.
Traffic analysis software 1996-97
Bien Logic developed and marketed two software applications that were among the first commercial-grade web traffic analyzers:
- SurfReport (programming started by Rick McGillis, then led by Michel Delory based on his graphics routines for MatchCoach),
- ProxyReport (developed mainly by Michel Delory).
Besides general web traffic reports, SurfReport in 1996 provided innovative and strategic marketing information, namely a list of keywords searched by web users in search engines that had led these users to visit the website where SurfReport was installed. At that time, major search engines were Netscape, Yahoo, Altavista, InfoSeek, and Excite, and none of them offered to buy keywords yet. In 1997, SurfReport was the first web traffic analyzer able to analyze over 1 Gigabyte of data in less than 1 hour. It was used by Netscape to analyze some of its log files, (which were among the largest at the time). Employees of Bien Logic contributed articles about standardization of web server log files and analysis of their content. Oracle marketed SurfReport for its network computing architecture. John Logan was sales manager of SurfReport and ProxyReport, with Bob Adams in business development.
Web publishing 1994-98
In addition, Bien Logic developed and published original websites that continue to exist today:
- an early web directory Planet Earth Pages, originally started by Richard Bocher from the San Diego US Navy. In 1994, it was the 14th most visited website on the internet according to a Wired magazine published ranking. Project managed by Troy Troxler.
- one of the first online dating sites: Flirt.com launched in February 1995 (expanding a webpage titled Flirt Online published in Dec 1994 in a website created by Bien Logic for Revolt magazine in San Diego). Flirt.com was also one of the first social networking sites. It included member profiles, relationship advice, astrology, news and reviews about fashion and style by staff editors and users themselves, photo novels, discussion forums, digital postcards, 2-D chat rooms (based on The Palace), an online store of books, CDs and clothing, and a fairly complete online community platform. Development was led by Lane Sharman, with key contributions by Jim Hall, Marc Northover and many others.
Other key team members
Besides Peter Yianilos, additional angel investors in Bien Logic were Lenny and Julia Baum and Sandor Straus. Jacob Reinbolt was general counsel, and became a prolific writer on the subject of intellectual property protection on the internet. Ken King (CFO), Nazanin Berenjian (controller) and Eric Boldt (taxes)  handled Bien Logic finances.
Company sale: SiteLab and Netrics
Bien Logic was sold at the end of 1997 to form SiteLab LLC and Netrics Inc. SiteLab is now a Top 50 Interactive Ad Agency, led by former Bien Logic employees: Marlene Matheson, Dana Todd (President of Board of SEMPO, 2005 & 2006), and Mike ZeMans. Netrics was a company providing high-end search software for enterprise databases. Netrics was acquired by TIBCO in 2010.
Frederic Bien took a breather in 1998 as Chief Scientist of High Technology Solutions, Inc. in San Diego, then incorporated a new company Belamo Corp., publisher of online dating website Flirt.com. Belamo was acquired by Playboy Enterprises in January 1999, spun out in June 1999, partially merged with Bigstar Entertainment in Nov 1999, then continued on its own a year later. Today Belamo publishes 10 online dating sites, including PlanetEarth.net, Flirt.net, Flirts.com, LiveLoveFlirt.com, LoveCentral.com, SkyBar.com, etc. Flirt.com was sold to Cupid LLC in 2010, while Belamo retained ownership of its "Flirt" trademarks. Frederic Bien is CEO of Ad Buying Network Inc. since 2006, and co-founded BLiNQ Media LLC and  in Atlanta in 2008.
- then called ShopUTC.com, now available at different site
- "Pan Handler Production - Digital Audio+Video Editing+Design+Mastering". Panhand.com. Retrieved November 5, 2011.
- "Avocados & Guacamole | California Avocado Commission". Avocado.org. Retrieved November 5, 2011.
- "Apparelnews.Com". Apparelnews.Com. Retrieved November 5, 2011.
- "Bien Logic announces SurfReport for network computing architecture | Business Wire". Find Articles. March 12, 1997. Retrieved November 5, 2011.
- "Are Your Employees Surfing Instead of Working? - David Shymkus". Careerknowhow.com. January 1, 1970. Retrieved November 5, 2011.
- Bien, Frederic (October 1, 1996). "Analyzing Web Traffic with Perl | Dr Dobb's". Drdobbs.com. Retrieved November 5, 2011.
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- "SiteLab, Web development, done intelligently". Sitelab. Retrieved November 5, 2011.
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- "Company - About Us". Netrics. Retrieved November 5, 2011.
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- "SkyBar.com". Belamo. Retrieved November 5, 2011.
- "Intelligent Media Buying for Online & TV Ad Placements". AdBuy. Retrieved November 5, 2011.
- "Facebook Advertising. Social Engagement Advertising.". BLiNQ Media. Retrieved November 5, 2011.
- "Web2Point0.tv Interview at AdTech 2010 on Social Media Advertising.". YouTube. Retrieved November 5, 2011.