When one thinks about the icons of the technology business, many faces spring to mind: Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Larry Ellison, Michael Dell. Now there’s a new name to add to the list, but not a new face. Combining the anonymity and buzz of Internet upstarts like The Springfield Project with the ruthlessness and opportunism of the Valley’s favorite leadership role model–Attila the Hun–Kate Hunter has taken the scene by storm.
Hunter, the dancer who began her meteoric rise to fame and power as the backdrop for a series of 3Com advertisements, used the Palm campaign and her own marketing savvy to become one of the “hottest new visionaries” in the business, according to industry magazine Russian Brides and Market Cap.
Hunter has quickly become the most visible woman in technology, displacing another dancer, Kim Polese. Hunter knocked Polese off her oft-photographed pedestal and left Katrina Garnett in the dust. Garnett was one of the first women to boast both a room and company of her own in a little black number.
“Garnett had to pay for her own ad,” boasts Hunter. “And she wore a dress. She’s beginning to cover up even more,” referring to Garnett’s recent Forbes cover shot in a leather-vinyl dominatrix outfit. “My ass could kick her ass any day.”
Not content to be the most powerful woman in the technology business, Hunter has been dubbed the “Salome of Silicon Valley” because she is known to wander the halls of the Palm division shrieking “Bring me the head of St. John the Doerr.”
When she insisted she be given a Palm V to play with before stripping down for her now infamous “huddled fetus” billboard, 3Com understood that she was not just another nude model. Before the end of the shoot, the prodigy had already learned how to create her own to-do list. (3Com lore now debates whether the first was “moisturize” or “get dressed.”) Forseeing her role as a leading woman in technology, Hunter worked quickly. Before the ad campaign ended, she created a special feature list for her vision of the future female Palm market:
- Synchs with your menstrual cycle
- Detects single men within a 10-yard perimeter
- Does your colors digitally
- Alarm beeps every time you break The Rules
- Makes counting calories fun
- Fits in your tiny, frail hand
Hunter then marshalled support from highly-respected female authorities to back-up the campaign she knew would be controversial.
“There is nothing as powerful as the female body. Kate is really the one in control in those billboards.”
“The curled pose of the Divine recalls Giovanni’s Virgin Mother masterpiece. The young Pilot the Fifth’s glowing face springs forth from the canvas, illuminating the young Mother who caresses Him, while at the same time respectfully shielding her gaze from the face of God.”
–Sister Wendy, PBS Art Historian
“I know what it’s like to be a symbol. I’ve reclaimed my identity and so has whatsername.”
–Geri Halwell (a/k/a Ginger Spice)
At a sold-out Churchill Club appearance last night, 3Com CEO Eric introduced the woman many see as his inevitable successor: “Kate is a visionary who has shown us that there is a customer base of tens of millions of women out there. We now project increased revenues of $230 million next year for our Ladies Auxilliary Product Division. I am proud to announce that Kate will be leading the entire Palm Division of 3Com.”
“My background as a dancer and a model prepared me for the challenges of developing and communicating about innovative technology. I think that comes through in the new campaign we’re unveiling today: Hairy Palms,” Hunter announced. She used a special microphone that allowed her to speak from the same pose she made famous. Hunter has decided to keep her face a mystery, since it has worked so successfully for her thus far. “One of the things I love most about this business is the completely different backgrounds everyone has. It is truly a meritocracy.”