Although the final toll may not be known for many days, its clear that the interactive world lost dozens, perhaps hundreds, of people to the attack on New Yorks World Trade Center in which as many as 4,763 people were still reported missing late last week.
Workers at dozens of technology companies are grieving for their dead or missing colleagues. More than 20 telecom and computer- related companies lost people aboard the four jetliners that were hijacked on Sept. 11. Another 20 or so companies appear to be missing employees who were inside the Twin Towers at the time of the attack.
More than a dozen companies may have had employees on the 106th floor of the North tower for a financial technology conference sponsored by Waters Conferences, a subsidiary of Londons Risk Waters Group. Companies that planned to have employees at the conference include Accenture, Bloomberg, Callixa, Compaq Computer, DataSynapse, Financial Fusion, Imagine Software, Radianz, Slam Dunk Networks and Thomson Financial.
According to Risk Waters Group, 237 people had planned to attend, but 100 delegates never arrived. Compaq still had not accounted for a "handful" of people late last week who were slated to be at the conference, and Radianz still had two employees missing. The other companies did not respond to requests for comment.
The hardest-hit companies may be securities firm Cantor Fitzgerald and its recently spun-off technology subsidiary, eSpeed. Cantors offices were on the 101st, 103rd, 104th and 105th floors of the North tower. Nearly 500 people worked for eSpeed, which was on the 103rd floor. ESpeed has been expanding its presence in the business-to-business sector and is a partner in TradeSpark, a rapidly growing online electricity trading operation. TradeSpark also had personnel on the uppermost floors of the tower. Forty-eight hours after the blast, published reports said the three companies were still missing about 600 people. But a spokesman for the companies said, "Its such a tragedy, the last thing people are thinking about right now are numbers."
Other companies still missing people include communications provider Genuity and phone giant Verizon Communications. A Genuity spokesman said three company technicians who were servicing one of the companys points of presence in the trade center have not been found.
Mark Marchand, a spokesman for Verizon, said less than 10 of the companys employees are missing. "The likelihood, at this point, is not good. We suspect, based on cell phone calls leading up to it, that they could be among those who are deceased, because they were in the upper floors of the tower," Marchand said.
While the attack resulted in mind-boggling damage, hundreds of workers at Net-related companies with offices in the World Trade Center escaped unscathed. Verizon had more than 2,200 workers in or near the towers. All of the 340 Sun employees in the South tower escaped unharmed.
Network Plus, the communications provider that occupied about half of the 81st floor of the North tower, ordinarily has 46 people in its office. On Tuesday, 26 people were present. All of them escaped via the towers stairway shortly after the first plane hit. Company spokesman Robert Cobuzzi said, "We were very fortunate."
However, other companies may not have been as fortunate. No information is available on several smaller tech companies, including Bepaid.com, eMeritus Communications, Meganet Management Consultants and The Beast.Comm.
In addition, software maker Oracle said a sales manager was aboard one of the hijacked airplanes, and seven of Oracles people are missing in the World Trade Center.