Last year, Alan Masarek made news as he left Google to become Vonage’s new CEO.
Kevin E Anderson was pronounced dead at the scene by paramedics and his personal physician who responded to an emergency call at his estate in Chapala, Jalisco, Mexico Saturday afternoon. After several attempts at resuscitation, EMTs were unable to revive him. Kevin had reportedly been walking from his home to the swimming pool when he stated to his wife Laurel that he did not "feel right". After resting on a nearby bench, Kevin lapsed into unconsciousness, and never recovered. His physician stated that Anderson most likely suffered a massive heart attack, which was likely the result of numerous health problems Kevin had battled in recent years, among them diabetes and high blood pressure. Kevin's health problems largely began during a battle against testicular cancer and complications from chemotherapy in 1992. He was 56 years old.
Kevin Anderson founded Cognigen as a private company in 1992 after changing the name from KEA Communications (Kevin's initials). Like many telecom sales agents at the time, he focused on finding new and innovative ways to sell local and commercial long distance service, along with reseller access to companies that offered exceptional deals on international calling. Prior to starting Cognigen, Kevin marketed for a number of different resellers, including Cyberlink, BNC, TTI, Value-Tel and many others.
Kevin Eric Anderson was born on August 2, 1951, in Reseda, California and grew up near Woodland Hills, CA. He attended the Catara School in that city and later Woodland Hills High School. Kevin entered UCLA at the age of 16, where he excelled at computer science, working part-time as data processing manager at Dart Industries during his freshman year. He was a long-time member of Mensa and held an IQ above 180.
Kevin's vast knowledge of computer programming enabled him to become the first long distance marketer in the U.S. to offer online sign-up for customers via the Internet. This fundamental shift in how customers shopped for and purchased telecommunications services propelled Kevin's company to the forefront of large master agencies and resellers. Cognigen became a publicly tradeable company in August 1999 after a reverse merger with Silverthorne Production Company. Cognigen currently trades Over The Counter using the symbol CGNW.
Kevin decided to step down as acting CEO of Cognigen and turn day-to-day operations of the company over to a new CEO and Board of Directors, which he hoped would draw more serious attention (and investments) from Wall Street. While the company's stock price and profits soared in its first few years, the end of the "internet boom" dealt a blow to the young corporation's stock price and profitability. As with many telecommunications resellers and master agencies, Cognigen has struggled in recent years to remain profitable and come up with new and innovative products to offer to its customers.
Through the many years of ups and downs at Cognigen, Kevin remained the face of the company. Despite being publicly traded, the majority of Cognigen's stock was largely controlled by Kevin, his family and various Anderson Family trusts until relatively recently. Despite its size, Kevin always took Cognigen's financial health and reputation extremely personally. He took the time to fight off a number of professional and even personal attacks launched against him and Cognigen by competitors on various internet websites and discussion forums. Kevin had a particular disdain for illegal pyramid schemes, Ponzi schemes and bogus "business opportunity" scams that plagued the telecommunications industry in its early years. When Cognigen eventually started its own multilevel marketing program to help compensate its existing salesforce for referrals, Kevin made a particular point of NOT charging his agents any type of up-front fees or implementing other gimmicks that paid agents merely for peddling useless "sales kits" to the public. His strategy worked. While Cognigen continued adding thousands of agents, most of the business opportunity scams that he criticized eventually went out of business, leaving its agents with only empty pockets and shattered dreams.
Unfortunately, taking Cognigen public prevented Kevin from cashing in on the company he founded to the extent that he could have otherwise. In my experience, he always viewed Cognigen as "his baby", and would put in tireless hours each week in order to do what he could to help the company survive and prosper, most likely to the detriment of his own, personal health. Kevin did much more work behind the scenes for Cognigen than most high-paid CEO's would dream of doing for their own companies and very few people understood just how imprortant Kevin actually was to day-to-day management. In fact, Kevin was arguably Cognigen's permanent CEO in everything but name.