It's a winding road through the worlds of literature and technology that led Eric Pulier, 32, to his post as chairman of US Interactive. Raised in Teaneck, N.J., the son of a tech enthusiast, Pulier began programming computers in fourth grade. By high school he had started a database computer company and then it was off to Harvard University as "the only English/American Lit major taking all the hardest computer courses," he says.
After working at the MIT Media Lab and graduating magna cum laude from Harvard in 1988, Pulier knew he wanted to use both sides of his brain in his future career.
"How could I put together an entity that would really combine the artistic side of computers with the technical side?" he recalls wondering. "I was looking for the right mix."
He did some writing, advertising, filmmaking, computer graphics and freelance consulting on Wall Street before moving to Los Angeles in 1991. There Pulier formed PDT, or People Doing Things, where he brought together a group of people from "extraordinarily mixed fields." They focused on addressing health care, education and other issues through technology.
These interests melded into Digital Evolution, the interactive agency Pulier founded in 1994.
"We had a knack for convincing Fortune 500 companies to work with us as opposed to [working with] IBM or Andersen Consulting," he says. The firm's clients included Toyota and its Lexus division, Microsoft, Intel, Disney and Warner Bros.
During that time Pulier also developed his passion for using the Internet to better society.
"We were never about building Web pages," he says, but "using technology to make a fundamental impact on healthcare, education and global brands."
Following investment in 1997 from Microsoft founder Paul Allen's Vulcan Ventures and Trident Capital, Digital Evolution merged with US Interactive in 1998. The company has offices in L.A., New York, King of Prussia, Pa., and Washington, with a Singapore branch slated to open early this year.
In keeping with his vision, Pulier also heads Vice President Al Gore's health care and technology forum, a position he earned after Digital Evolution was tapped to create the Inaugural Technology Exhibition in Washington. He also advises Gore on health care initiatives for the Family Reunion Conference, and works with the Starbright Foundation for children and the New Economy Task Force, which determines appropriate government involvement in areas like the Internet and taxation.
"I care about education and health care," he says. "I feel like it would be an appropriate legacy to do something important there."