Tech leader Tom Loveland doesn’t have to shout to get his message across

Baltimore Business Journal – by Joanna Sullivan, Staff
November 26, 2010

Tom Loveland wasn’t born to a be a public speaker. He’s kind of quiet, self-effacing and soft-spoken.

But the fight against the state’s “tech tax” back in 2008 thrust this otherwise unassuming tech CEO into the limelight and in front of the microphone on more than a few occasions.

It was an instant introduction to politics and it turned him into an activist and local celebrity.

Loveland, the CEO of Mind Over Machines, spoke at the Baltimore Business Journal’s Nov. 18 luncheon for the launch of our new publication, “Edge: Where Business Meets Tech.”

He has become one of those quietly effective speakers who doesn’t have to shout, tell great jokes or go for the dramatic pause.

He looked pretty comfortable with his iPhone in his hand as he moved a PowerPoint presentation along. His speech began slowly as he filled in the audience on the reason why he was headlining a tech lunch. He brought them back to the whole tech tax fight and his discovery that anyone could have a voice and sway in politics if they just try.

Three years and a political PAC later, Loveland still seems amazed at what he and his fellow techies managed to accomplish. At the same time, he definitely has some of the swagger those with political pull yield. He assured the audience at the BWI Hilton they need not worry about new business taxes. He does have a direct line to Annapolis’ powerful these days.

Loveland did much more than talk about the past. What moved me and fellow audience members most was his optimism and great regard for Baltimore now and in the future.

He used the catchphrase “Baltimore is rising” several times. A few minutes and PowerPoint slides later, you believed him.

Loveland pointed out the grassroots efforts under way to make Greater Baltimore a better place to live and do business. Among them:

• Beehive Baltimore, a group of information technology and creative professionals who work in a common space to create the kind of “bootstrap network” that could lead to new technology and innovation.

• Amplify Baltimore created a series of interactive conversations to find solutions to Baltimore’s many problems.

• Ignite Baltimore, dubbed by City Paper as the “Best Nerd Night Out”, brings together all types of folks for short presentations to spur ideas across cultures and disciplines.

Loveland, named “czar” of the city’s efforts to woo Google’s high-speed fiber to town, acknowledged that the Internet giant will only pick two or three cities for its new network. Charm City is vying against some 1,100 communities. Even if the city doesn’t prevail, Loveland is already trying to figure out a way to get high-speed fiber here anyway.

As for luring new companies to town, Loveland wants to grow them instead. “We could be the startup capital of the world,” he said.

For someone with lots of political clout, Loveland isn’t pinning our future on legislators, the governor or any other politico. He said the onus is on business and the individual to make this city a better place to live and work. “This is our city,” he said. “This city is whatever we make of it.”

View original in Baltimore Business Journal