Chris Edgecomb, co-founder and CEO of Star Telecom, once one of Santa Barbara’s largest public companies, died Nov. 7. He was 52.
Star Telecom was among the nation’s largest telecommunications companies. Edgecomb led the firm’s spectacular rise from $67 million in revenue in 1995 to more than $1 billion in 1999 — before it crashed as the dot-com bubble burst.
With Star, Edgecomb pioneered methods of sending long-distance phone calls as data – called voice-over-Internet-protocol, or VoIP – that proved more cost-effective than the methods used by traditional telecommunications carriers. At its peak, Star Telecom had 855 employees.
Edgecomb grabbed national attention in 1999 with a $7 million wedding to entertainment executive Maryann Antell. Jay Leno was the master of ceremonies at the reception, and Rod Stewart and David Crosby, among others, provided the music.
Star Telecom’s fall was nearly as swift as its rise. Faced with shrinking margins as competitors piled into the telecommunications space, Star Telecom began searching for capital in 1999. It first considered the bond markets before ultimately settling on a merger with World Access, another telecommunications firm.
By January of 2001, the deal had fallen through. Edgecomb resigned as CEO. Star Telecom filed for bankruptcy two months later and was eventually liquidated.
After Star Telecom imploded, Edgecomb settled into a quieter life in Santa Barbara. He invested in several real estate ventures and founded and ran Star Power Generators, a generator rental company that served the Southern California film and event industries. He remained active in the telecommunications industry through Sirius Telecom, which provides a software-based switching technology for international carriers to do business outside their home networks.
“I’d prefer my tombstone say I was a motivator and collector of talented people,” Edgecomb said in a prepared statement released by Sirius after his death. “It’s really about the team assembled; then, a coach or CEO can step in and guide the process, but without the team, I’ve never seen a coach score a touchdown against an opposing squad of linebackers.”
Edgecomb’s philanthropic activities included donations to the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department, Dream Foundation, Santa Barbara Fire Fighters Alliance, Santa Barbara Bowl, Cottage Hospital, House Ear Institute, The Maximum Hope Foundation, The Michael J. Fox Foundation, SPARKLE and others.
Born in 1959 in Hollywood, to Glenn and Sannie Edgecomb, Chris Edgecomb later attended Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. He is survived by his wife, Maryann; his daughter, Sydney; his mother, Sannie and sisters Laurel Edgecomb and TC Edgecomb.
Funeral services will be held at 10 a.m. Nov. 15 at the First Presbyterian Church of Santa Barbara, followed by a burial service at Santa Barbara Cemetery. Donations can be sent to the Dream Foundation in memory of Chris Edgecomb, 1528 Chapala Street, Suite 304, Santa Barbara, 93101.