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This is the fifth installment in the Power Players Series and the first story in the LUKE mini-series. View the entire series here.


Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it… hard and fast. That was how my rise at NeoSys, Inc. happened. One day I was an intern for the Director of Marketing, the next I was the most trusted corporate spy working under the COO of the second biggest software company in America. Well, actually, we didn’t call ourselves spies. My official title was Competitive Intelligence Officer.

I had worked for NeoSys for just over two years, since the last semester of my senior year at Cornell. NeoSys employed over 10,000 software engineers worldwide, creating everything from mobile phone software to virtual environments. We were second in the industry only to Maxwell Computers, and my job was to fix that.

I walked into the reception area at Maxwell Computers’ corporate office in Seattle, trying to regulate my breathing as I anticipated my interview with Luke Maxwell: the hottest CEO in America, possibly the world. I swallowed my nerves as I passed a setup of sleek gray sofas on my way to the receptionist’s desk. The glass ceiling in the lobby flooded the space with intense natural light and gave everything an unnatural glow, as if everything at Maxwell Computers shined with the light of God.

It seemed everything Luke Maxwell touched these days was blessed. Twenty-eight years old and he was the richest man in the country. People across the globe, from toddlers to seniors, were scrambling to get their hands on his latest products. All I wanted was to get my hands on the password for a software project he had dubbed “Blaze: The greatest innovation to hit the industry since the Internet.”

The receptionist wore square glasses, which were half-covered by her long, black bangs. With her gray hoodie pulled over her head, she looked young enough to be in high school. She stared at me as I approached the desk as if she were trying to make me even more nervous.

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