CEO Quits Job Over UFO Views
San Francisco Chronicle, January 9, 1999
Joe Firmage - the Fox Mulder of Silicon Valley- resigned yesterday from the firm he founded so he could promote his belief that many of today's high-tech advancements, including semiconductors, fiber optics and lasers, came from aliens. Firmage is the 28-year-old founder of USWeb, a high-profile Internet consulting firm that merged recently with the Net marketing firm CKS to form a 1,950-person public company worth $2.1 billion. Clients of Santa Clara-based USWeb/CKS include Apple Computer, Levi Strauss and Harley-Davidson.
In November, shortly before the merger, Firmage was pressured to step down as CEO of USWeb and take the lesser title of chief strategist because of his campaign to prove the existence of UFOs. Yesterday, Firmage said he resigned as chief strategist because he believed that continuing publicity, including this article, would damage the company's reputation. "I want to ensure the company is not impacted in any negative way," Firmage said. "I do not want to put myself in a position of compromising its day-to-day perception. I was not pressured" to resign. Robert Shaw, CEO of USWeb/CKS, said, "Given the market exposure associated with his outside interests, Joe suggested that we would all be better served if he didn't have an official role with the company. Joe is a visionary and he should be quite proud of what he accomplished. This move should demonstrate to the public and the employees that he's always put the interests of the company first."
Firmage said he is willing to risk his career to further publicize his theories, one of which is that many high-tech advancements can be traced to a purported alien spaceship crash in Roswell, N.M., in 1947. According to Firmage, government officials recovered materials from the spacecraft and reverse-engineered them to develop many of today's high-tech breakthroughs. Like Mulder, the intrepid, erudite government agent on The X-Files, Firmage also believes that the truth is being covered up by the military-industrial complex. Firmage has published his many ideas in a 600-page manifesto, titled The Truth, on his Web site. "This is certainly the most important news event in 2,000 years," he said.
Firmage said his theories grew out of a year's worth of research on government documents and an alleged personal encounter with an other-worldly being. In a chapter from his manifesto, titled My Contact, Firmage recounts an incident that he said occurred one morning at his Los Gatos home, shortly before USWeb went public in 1997. "A remarkable being, clothed in brilliant white light, appeared hovering over my bed in my room," Firmage writes. "He looked rather annoyed, and asked: 'Why have you called me here?' "I answered with a moment's pause: 'I want to travel in space.' This was always my lifelong dream, and it naturally came out in a state of semi-waking thought. "He chuckled skeptically, paused, and asked: 'Why should you be granted such an opportunity?' "I responded without hesitation, in the only way I could have responded given my life to that time: 'Because I'm willing to die for it!' "
Nothing in Firmage's background would suggest any out-of- the-ordinary beliefs. Clean-cut, polite and articulate, he was raised in a modest Salt Lake City home and attended the University of Utah as a physics major. Although fascinated by science fiction as a teenager, he also described himself as "a skeptical scientist." By the age of 18, he had founded his first company, Serius, a pioneer in object-oriented programming tools. That company was sold to Novell in 1993 for $24 million, and Firmage became Novell's vice president of networking strategy until 1995. He co-founded USWeb in December 1995.
Firmage's online book contends that extraterrestrials, or "teachers," have randomly appeared on Earth for several thousand years to "nudge" human beings toward radical scientific advancements. The Web site also contains about 100 pages of new documents from a source Firmage calls the "Deep Throat of Cyberspace." One of the documents is a purported 1947 memo from President Harry S. Truman to Secretary of Defense James Forrestal that sets up a top-secret U.S. government operation called "Majestic Twelve" to investigate extraterrestrials. Subsequent documents tacitly acknowledge a series of spaceship crashes from 1947 to 1953. In addition, the site includes an alleged June 1947 letter from Albert Einstein and Robert Oppenheimer to high-tech visionary Vannevar Bush dishing up advice on how scientists should handle aliens, and a Nov. 12, 1963, note from President John F. Kennedy to a CIA operative about "UFO intelligence files." Kennedy was assassinated 10 days later in Dallas. Dr. Robert Wood, a retired aerospace engineer and longtime McDonnell Douglas executive living in Newport Beach, said he has studied the controversial documents and believes that they are real.