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Mortinger ’89 maximizes opportunities presented at IBM

March 5, 2009 | Alumni

Since graduating from Moritz in 1989, Steve Mortinger has worked for IBM, which makes use of virtual world platforms regularly. Pictured is Mortinger and his avatar in Second Life.

It’s difficult not to be intrigued by parts of Steve Mortinger’s jobs over the years. And if you’re not, your teenager probably will be. The 1989 Moritz graduate and IBM attorney has had the opportunity to work on some incredible projects.

Mortinger, whose title is vice president and associate general counsel of IBM’s Systems and Technology Group, has drafted contracts for the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games, worked on projects associated with the design and manufacture of the microprocessors at the heart of the Nintendo Wii and Microsoft’s Xbox 360, and currently leads efforts investigating the emergence of online virtual worlds.

“There are parts of your job that you have to do, and there are parts of your job that you really look forward to doing,” he said. “I have been pretty lucky to have a variety of different opportunities over the years.”

Mortinger started working for IBM immediately after graduating from law school. “I always thought that I would stay here until I felt like I wasn’t interested in it anymore or my career opportunities dried up,” he said. “Neither of those have happened … so I have not had that problem.”

Before even arriving at law school, Mortinger could be heard telling friends that he someday wanted to be an attorney for a large corporation. So when IBM came to Moritz to interview students, Mortinger was sure to sign up.

He interviewed with Ron Lauderdale ’74, and Lauderdale hired Mortinger a short time later. Although they remained in different divisions for most of Mortinger’s time with the company, Mortinger has reported directly to his fellow alumnus since 2007.

Mortinger’s first job with the world’s largest computer company was supporting its Enterprise Systems Division in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. In that position, he handled contracts for the manufacture of mainframe computers, labor and employment issues, and environmental matters for a manufacturing plant there. From there, Mortinger has held nearly a half dozen other positions within in the company, each adding new and increased responsibility.

The Westerville, Ohio, native helped IBM garner some major contracts over the past several years, including one for providing all the information technology equipment and services (for such things as timing and results) to the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

From 1999-03, Mortinger worked in San Francisco as IBM’s lead marketing lawyer on the West Coast. “It was a great time to work in California because of the tech boom,” he said. “Everyday, when I got off the train there were dot-coms looking to hire people. They were so desperate for labor. Then the bubble burst, and everyone was hitting me up for jobs.”

He returned to the East Coast in 2003 where he supported the company’s newly-formed Engineering & Technology Services division. Mortinger helped craft contracts that placed IBM microprocessors in the Nintendo Wii and in Microsoft’s Xbox 360.

Currently, Mortinger oversees the acquisitions and divestitures for his division. He is also charged with exploring and cultivating the company’s presence in virtual worlds. “The Internet is going to take another evolution, and in that future state of the Internet we will likely be represented by characters that can interact with the Internet and with each other.  That is why today’s virtual world sites are so relevant.”  Mortinger co-founded and is co-chair of the American Bar Association Intellectual Property Section’s Committee on Computer Games and Virtual Worlds. He is a familiar face within the growing number of attorneys exploring virtual worlds and the legal questions that they raise.

Mortinger lives in Ridgefield, Conn., with his wife, Alison, and two sons, ages 12 and 10.