Jeffrey Peterson

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For other people named Jeff Peterson, see Jeff Peterson (disambiguation).
Jeffrey Peterson
Born Jeffrey Scott Peterson
(1972-10-11) October 11, 1972 (age 44)
Santa Barbara, California
United States
Residence Cambridge, Massachusetts
Nationality American
Citizenship USA
Occupation Technology entrepreneur
Years active 1997-present
Known for Hispanic Internet pioneer
Home town Santa Barbara, California
Political party Democratic Party (Before 2016)
Independent (2016–present)
Call-sign KF7QGF[1]
Jeffrey Peterson
Country United States
FIDE rating 14784 (November 2016)

Jeffrey Peterson (born October 11, 1972 in Santa Barbara, California) is an American technology entrepreneur and California born millionaire who is considered the pioneer of Hispanic internet in the United States.[2][3] He is best known as the founder of Quepasa, one of the most popular Latin American online communities.[4] In 2012, Quepasa changed its corporate name to MeetMe[5] and continued trading on the Nasdaq Stock Market under ticker symbol MEET. As of late 2016, MeetMe had a market value of about U.S. $250 million.[6]

Early life and education[edit]

Peterson grew up in Santa Barbara, California. As a son of British mother and an American father, his paternal ancestors emigrated to Santa Barbara from Spain. Peterson was educated at public schools in the Santa Barbara area. He was raised next door to the director of the University of California, Santa Barbara computer laboratory, who introduced him to computer programming at an early age in 1978.[7]

According to a published biography about his life, Peterson spent much of his early childhood remotely connecting to the UCSB mainframe computers via terminal and modem. through this early access to technology, he quickly learned to make his own Unix and VMS based software applications on the campus PDP-11 and DEC VAX computer systems. In the early years of computing, the largely technical science of programming was a pastime overrun by the likes of college professors and engineers. To fit in, Peterson reportedly maintained an identity for login on the MIT Artificial Intelligence Laboratory PDP-10, where he was known by his peers as "Dr. Jeffrey Peterson", at the age of eleven.[8]

In 1981, Peterson landed his first job, as a troubleshooter for a software company focused on Commodore computers. In 1983, he worked as a product tester for vintage hardware manufacturer LOBO Systems. During the mid-1980s, Peterson focused on the development of software for freely distributed bulletin board system and multi-user dungeon gaming applications. He was known among his colleagues as an expert at implementing customized kernel-level multitasking solutions, who regularly pushed early hardware beyond traditional limits. Peterson, already a seasoned assembly and C language developer in his early years,[8] contributed heavily to the emerging F/OSS programming communities of the 1980s. He has published numerous texts, including articles on multiprocessing, quasi-empirical methods, and artificial intelligence.

Peterson was ridiculed about his early programming years in a satirical article published by in 2004.[9] The article, which highlights Peterson's public biography as filled in a Quepasa proxy statement on April 23, 2004,[10] was suspicious about believing that he was programming computers when he was 10 years old. Nonetheless, Peterson is credited at this age as a contributor on the inside cover of a best selling microcomputer software book in 1983.[11]

Well acquainted with the college scene from his earlier programming years, Peterson worked as a disc jockey at UCSB college radio station KCSB-FM from 1986 to 1990.[12] During the late 1980s, Peterson held the position of "traffic manager" on the sixteen-member executive committee at college radio station KCSB-FM that gave both Jim Rome and Sean Hannity their first radio broadcasting jobs.[12]

Peterson dropped out of high school in 1988 at age 16, to pursue his career in investments. He continued postliminary studies in the areas of law and history.


Wall Street years[edit]

In 1989, Peterson started his first job at a Wall Street investment firm, Lehman Brothers, where he learned about the stock market. He would later pass the industry exams, becoming a stockbroker at age nineteen. After working for several Wall Street firms, he landed in the field of investment banking, where he gained experience in corporate finance. Peterson would go on to work with investment groups that financed hundreds of companies primarily through initial public offering transactions during the strong stock market conditions of the early 1990s.[7][edit]

In 1997, Peterson founded[13] The website was the first major online community to focus on United States hispanic Internet users. A year later, he successfully persuaded Arizona sports mogul Jerry Colangelo to help raise in excess of $20 million of seed capital to launch the company. Phoenix Suns star Jason Kidd signed on as an investor as well as the former Denver Broncos quarterback John Elway, investing $500,000.[7][14][15]

Within months, Costa Rican President Jose Maria Figueres joined the Quepasa Board of Directors.[16] Peterson went on to sell a stake in the Spanish language website to Sony Pictures Entertainment and Telemundo LLC.[17] CNBC chief business commentator and former FDIC chairman L. William Seidman joined Quepasa's board of directors.[16] After meeting with Peterson during an online interview at the offices of the Miami Herald, Gloria Estefan signed a contract to become Quepasa's official spokesperson and investor.[14] Quepasa billboards were a frequent sight in hispanic cities across the United States, encouraging millions of Latinos to join "El Mundo Nuevo" (spanish: The New World) online.

On June 24, 1999, Quepasa went public on the Nasdaq.[16][18][19] By the end of the day, Quepasa was worth $272 million. The young company founder was featured in live interviews on CNN and CNBC.[20][21] At age 26, Peterson had seen his net worth rise by $36 million.[22]

A year later, Quepasa was named the most popular online destination for United States Hispanics, ahead of competitors Starmedia and Yahoo! Espanol.[14]

Quepasa management controversy[edit]

Shortly after the Quepasa public offering, Peterson was ousted from the company by Gary Trujillo, the new CEO that Peterson hired to run Quepasa sixty days prior to the incident.[23] Speaking about the surprise management coup to the Arizona Republic, Peterson was quoted that Trujillo breached every ounce of trust he placed in him.[14] In a lawsuit filed in Maricopa County Superior Court, Peterson was accused of competing with Quepasa.[24] The lawsuit was settled 90 days later, with Quepasa paying $2.4 million to Peterson.[14] Trujillo would later concede that the problem was of a "personality issue".[25] Peterson subsequently resigned from the board of directors, but still remaining Quepasa's largest single shareholder.[26] His resigning from Quepasa left the company in the hands of a chief executive officer and a board of directors inexperienced in both the Internet and the technology that ran it.[14]

Vayala Corporation[edit]

In July 2001, Peterson founded Internet search company called Vayala Corporation, together with Brian Long Lu, son of Asian technology mogul Hong Liang Lu, and Mike Marriott. Vayala, a developer of large scale dynamic search technologies, was successful in securing venture capital financing with executives of Softbank Corp.. In 2002, Vayala was acquired by Quepasa.[27]

During this time, The Arizona Republic ran a photo of Peterson on the front cover of the Sunday edition, in a three-part feature about his career. The series ran on September 9 and 10, 2001, concluding on September 11, 2001.

Quepasa takeover and resurrection[edit]

By 2002, Quepasa shares had declined in value under the leadership of Trujillo. In media reports, Trujillo blamed the decline in Quepasa's market value on unfavorable market conditions and the ".com bubble".[28] The Chicago Tribune wrote that even with Internet Winter blowing cold wind across the digital landscape, many experts were surprised to hear the death rattle of America's once successful hispanic-centered Web operation,[29] Later that year, Peterson led a group of investors through a proxy fight and hostile takeover of Quepasa, reportedly investing millions of his own money.[30][31][32] Shortly after the takeover, Peterson was again named Chairman and Chief Executive of Quepasa.[33]

In January 2004, the Business Journal of Phoenix reported that Quepasa was in the midst of a revival led by Jeffrey himself.[34] By 2006, Quepasa shares had increased in value by $150 million.[35]

On November 5, 2006, Peterson again left the company, after selling 30% of Quepasa to then-multimillionaire investor Richard Scott,[36][37] who would later become Governor-elect of Florida.[38]

Political activity[edit]

Peterson, a Democrat, has been involved in political circles. His political affiliations have often been related to Hispanic interests. In 2003, Peterson was appointed to the Arizona-Mexico Commission by former Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano.[39] By 2005, he had been appointed to the Executive Committee.

In 2005, Peterson was appointed to the cross-border transactions committee of the Arizona Department of Real Estate.[40] The committee is focused on international real estate transactions between residents of Arizona and Mexico. In the same year, he was appointed as the chair of the Technology Subcommittee of the 2006 Executive Bond Committee, by Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon.[41] The $850 million bond initiative was approved by voters in March 2006. He also financially supported the March 25, 2006, and April 10, 2006, reform marches organized by immigrants and he was a co-host at a June 1, 2006, fundraiser for Arizona Senatorial candidate Jim Pederson, featuring former president, Bill Clinton.[42] Jeffrey held a fundraiser at his residence for Barack Obama featuring Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean and actress Scarlett Johansson on August 21, 2008.[43] Peterson was named as a co-host at a October 19, 2016 fundraising event for Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton featuring Chelsea Clinton at a private residence in Phoenix.[44]

In 2013, Peterson was appointed to the Board of Directors[45] of the U.S. Philippines Society, a Washington, D.C. based private sector initiative Chaired by U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte and former AIG Chairman Maurice "Hank" Greenberg.[46]

According to Maricopa County's property records, Peterson's residence is listed at the same address as Arizona Senator John McCain.[47]

Hollywood ties[edit]

For unknown reasons, Peterson has been known to maintain ties with significant entertainment industry personalities. For example, Peterson signed Gloria Estefan as Quepasa's spokesperson and investor in 1999.[14] Movie producer Paul Mazursky was an investor in Peterson's startup, Vayala Corp. The co-founder of rock band Dishwalla is listed as a member of the board of directors in an early Quepasa registration statement.[48] Peterson is a childhood friend of rap music producer Damizza. In September 2005, Quepasa announced a marketing deal with Jennifer Lopez.[49]Sammy Hagar, a promotor of Mexican tequila, has been reported to have forged ties with Quepasa.[50]

Current activities[edit]

Peterson is considered to be amongst the top authorities on Hispanic Internet culture in the United States.[51] He maintains a presence in a number of IT industry advisory roles. Peterson serves on the Hispanic committee of the Interactive Advertising Bureau in New York City.[52] According to his public biography, he acts as a technology consultant to the Federal government of Mexico.[53]

In 2007, a scholarship fund was established at the University of Texas, San Antonio, in Peterson's name. The fund grants scholarships to Hispanic students pursuing technology related degrees.[54]

On July 20, 2009, Peterson sold the Internet domain name to Demand Media Inc., a company controlled by former Myspace chairman Richard Rosenblatt.[55][56]

See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ "A Latino Web Pioneer". Hispanic Magazine. 17 (5). May 2004. 
  3. ^ "Tech entrepreneur Jeffrey Peterson to visit Feb. 26". Ann Eisenberg. UTSA Honors College. February 25, 2008. Retrieved 19 February 2013. 
  4. ^ "A Latino Internet Revolution". Lee Romney. Los Angeles Times. June 22, 1999. Retrieved 19 February 2013. 
  5. ^ "Quepasa And MyYearbook Rebrand As MeetMe". anthony ha. techcrunch. April 3, 2012. Retrieved 30 October 2016. 
  6. ^ "Nasdaq Stock Market Quote, MEET". October 30, 2016. Retrieved 30 October 2016. 
  7. ^ a b c "Death of a dot-com", by Jane Larson, The Arizona Republic, 9 September 2001, cover story
  8. ^ a b "California Public Schools Forum" Volume 2: Microcomputers Graduate School of Education, UCSB, June 1987 (98 pgs.)
  9. ^ "The Five Dumbest Things on Wall Street This Week". George Mannes. The Street. May 28, 2004. Archived from the original on 13 November 2013. Retrieved 19 February 2013. 
  10. ^ "Form DEF-14A"., Inc. April 23, 2004. Retrieved 19 February 2013. 
  11. ^ Jeffries, Ron (1983). Commodore 64 fun and games: Volume 2. New York: Warner Book. ISBN 0-446-38183-7. Retrieved February 21, 2013. 
  12. ^ a b "La Cumbre" Yearbook, Volumes 67-68, Copyright 1987, 1988 ASUCSB
  13. ^ "Hispanic market one to lure" by Greg Farrell, USA Today, 6 Aug. 1999
  14. ^ a b c d e f g "tumult in top ranks key in Quepasa's downfall", by Jane Larson, The Arizona Republic, 10 September 2001
  15. ^ "Quepasa: helpless to stop fall Hispanic" by Jane Larson, The Arizona Republic, 11 September 2001
  16. ^ a b c Form S-1/A,, inc., 24 June 1999
  17. ^ Form SC-13D,, inc., 6 July 1999
  18. ^ "Quepasa Corporation Regains Compliance With NASDAQ Market Value Requirement". Reshma Kapadia. Reuters. April 22, 2008. Retrieved 23 February 2013. 
  19. ^ "Reception hot for Investors bid up web site IPO in heavy trading", Russ Wiles, The Arizona Republic, 25 June 1999
  20. ^ " CEO", Jan Hopkins, CNN: Capital Ideas, 24 June 1999
  21. ^ "Moneyline News Hour", Lou Dobbs, CNNfn, 24 June 1999
  22. ^ "Rocketing to Cyberspace", Hispanic Magazine (Cover Story), July–August 1999.
  23. ^ "Quepasa fires co-founder". CNN. August 2, 1999. Retrieved 23 February 2013. 
  24. ^ Form 8-K,, inc., 2 August 1999
  25. ^ "1999 Media Markets Report: Clicking Online". Vaughn Hagerty. Hispanic Business. May 26, 2000. Archived from the original on 17 July 2012. Retrieved 23 February 2013. 
  26. ^ " Ex-Exec Had 18% Of Stk, Highest Pay" By Rick Jurgens, Dow Jones News Service, August 2, 1999
  27. ^ "Quepasa announces agreement to acquire Vayala Corporation". Business Wire. August 29, 2002. Retrieved 23 February 2013. 
  28. ^ Shareholder Letter on Form 425,, Inc., 17 September 2001
  29. ^ " - No Mas?". James Coates. The Chicago Tribune. 1 January 2001. Retrieved 23 February 2013. 
  30. ^ Schedule 14A
  31. ^ " kills merger deal". Angela Gonzales. Phoenix Business Journal. February 6, 2002. Retrieved 23 February 2013. 
  32. ^ "Quepasa's board to step aside: liquidation option abandoned", by Jane Larson, The Arizona Republic, 15 February 2002
  33. ^ Form 8-K,, Inc., 26 April 2002
  34. ^ " regroups after difficult times". Ruben Hernandez. Phoenix Business Journal. February 1, 2004. Retrieved 23 February 2013. 
  35. ^ "Marketwatch historical stock quote for QPSA, trade date Oct. 24, 2006". Retrieved May 28, 2010. 
  36. ^ "Quepasa corp. lands major Fla. investor", by Jane Larson, The Arizona Republic, 23 March 2006
  37. ^ Form 8-K, Quepasa Corporation, 7 November 2006
  38. ^ "Video: Rick Scott Defends Investment In Quepasa Corporation", ABC 25, "West Palm Beach News", 12 August 2010
  39. ^ "Governor Janet Napolitano Appoints Quepasa Founder and CEO Jeffrey Peterson to the Board of Directors of the State of Arizona, Arizona-Mexico Commission PR Newswire". PR Newswire. July 23, 2003. Retrieved 23 February 2013. 
  40. ^ Cross-Border Transactions Committee, Arizona Department of Real Estate Website, 6 June 2005
  41. ^ "2006 Bond Program". December 19, 2005. Archived from the original on 15 January 2013. Retrieved 23 February 2013. 
  42. ^ "Former president backs Pederson at fundraiser: Clinton visits Valley". Paul Giblin. The Tribune. June 2, 2006. Retrieved 23 February 2013. 
  43. ^ "Scarlett Johansson in Phoenix for Obama". Matt Culbertson. The Arizona Republic. August 21, 2008. Retrieved 23 February 2013. 
  44. ^ "Michelle Obama, Chelsea Clinton and Bernie Sanders to go to Arizona". Dan Merica and Jeff Zeleny. CNN. October 17, 2016. Retrieved 19 October 2016. 
  45. ^ "U.S. Philippines Society Website, Board of Directors". U.S. Philippines Society. October 31, 2016. Retrieved 31 October 2016. 
  46. ^ "Philippines envoy warns of Chinese 'aggression' in South China Sea maritime dispute". Larry Luxner. The Washington Diplomat. December 17, 2014. Retrieved 31 October 2016. 
  47. ^ "Maricopa County Assessor website". Archived from the original on May 11, 2010. Retrieved May 17, 2010. 
  48. ^ Form S-1,, Inc., 10 March 1999
  49. ^ "JLO by Jennifer Lopez and Quepasa Team Up to Reach Hispanic Shoppers Online". Hispanic Business. September 21, 2005. Archived from the original on 17 July 2012. Retrieved 23 February 2013. 
  50. ^ "Quepasa, Sammy Hagar forge promotional alliance". Phoenix Business Journal. August 12, 2003. Retrieved 23 February 2013. 
  51. ^ Stevens, Liz (2002). "Hip to be Hispanic: American pop culture showing Latin accent". Fort Worth Star-Telegram. 
  52. ^ "The IAB Hispanic Committee" (PDF). IAB. Retrieved 23 February 2013. 
  53. ^ Form 10-KSB, Quepasa Corporation, 31 March 2006
  54. ^ "Jeffrey S. Peterson Endowed Honors Scholarship.". University of Texas, San Antonio. Retrieved 2012-05-12. 
  55. ^ "inter123 Corporation and Demand Media Inc. Enter Into an Agreement in Regards to Demand.Com". PR NewsWire. Retrieved 2009-11-17. 
  56. ^ "Demand Media Buys". Retrieved 2009-11-17. 

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