Five Questions For Tom Crowley, CEO of MBX Systems - InformationWeek

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02:15 PM

Five Questions For Tom Crowley, CEO of MBX Systems

Tom Crowley is a musician and entrepreneur who's opened for the Beach Boys and managed popular bands. He's also managed a successful computer reseller business. He thinks networked appliances tuned to run specific software packages will be music to customers' ears.

Tom Crowley, CEO of MBX Systems -- Photograph by Bob Stefko

Photograph by Bob Stefko

Tom Crowley
CEO of MBX Systems

Interview by Larry Greenemeier

Soon after he graduated from Loyola in 1983, Crowley and his band, Idle Tears, landed a recording contract with MCA Records and made an album. By the time Idle Tears broke up a few years later, the band had made a music video and opened for the Beach Boys. "From that experience, I was able to see the value of incredible songwriting and how [the Beach Boys] connected with their audience."

Crowley moved on to other bands and later created a music promotion company. His biggest success was in the early '90s with Big Head Todd and the Monsters. The band achieved success by "constantly getting out on the road and writing new music. That's how a lot of acts make it."

After his stint in the music biz, Crowley worked with a friend refurbishing office equipment and then ran a computer replacement parts business. "We put a couple of pages of ads in a computer shopper, the lowest price in the catalog. The phone would ring off the hook for the two weeks after the shopper came out each month."

The reseller business really took off after the debut of Windows 95. With the price of PCs still high, customers preferred swapping out motherboards to buying new systems. "Our business grew fast thanks to Windows 95 because there was such a huge demand for horsepower."

Crowley's current pursuits are his latest band, Private Drive, and MBX Systems, which builds network appliances with prepackaged anti-spam and other software from MBX's partners. "We purchase the components and put together the appliances. Customers want these appliances for specific roles rather than installing software on a generic box."

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