A weekly column profiling companies and personalities. This week: Data Depth.

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Who: Mike O’Donnell



What: Issaquah-based Data Depth, the parent company of iCopyright



When: O’Donnell became the chief executive of iCopyright in 1998. The mission was to create a system that allowed publishers to copyright and distribute content online in an organized and automated fashion.



Hockey stick: The company hired 100 people, secured a Renton office building and raised $18 million in venture capital. Investors included Crosslink Capital, Garage.com, Menlo Park Ventures and Rustic Canyon Partners.



Plague: As was the case with many Internet companies at the time, O’Donnell was replaced by more-experienced executives. In early 2000, former InfoSpace executive Bernie Strom became CEO, and iCopyright prepared for an initial public offering.



Misfortune: The company started backpedaling when the appetite for anything Internet withered.


Meanwhile: O’Donnell had started Data Depth. When he got word of iCopyright’s declining fortunes, he bought the company’s assets and started over.



Then and now: O’Donnell raised $3 million from some of the original investors, including Rustic Canyon. The company has six contract workers, including O’Donnell. He works from his Sammamish home most of the time.



Reach: Those using iCopyright software today include 100,000 registered corporations and universities that collectively have 20 million Web pages. The product sells through third parties to users such as The Associated Press, Reuters and Billboard magazine.



Products: The pages carry an iCopyright logo, which allows people to request permission to use the information. O’Donnell said iCopyright gets a small portion of each sale.



The hard work: For a while, O’Donnell said, it was difficult owning an Internet company. There was a stigma, and he often wondered if it was truly something that could put his kids through college. But O’Donnell said he continues to get his energy from knowing that “it’s being used by millions and millions of people.”


— Tricia Duryee