The Phileas Fogg Connection

     In 1872, Jules Verne, the recognized father of 19th century science fiction, penned a fantastic adventure story about a mysterious Londoner named Phileas Fogg, who went Around the World in 80 Days to try to win a wager with the members of his Reform Club. When Michael Todd decided to make his 1956 film of this Verne book, he immortalized Phileas Fogg, played by the British actor David Niven, winning five Academy Awards, including Best Picture. Todd never made another film --as he died in an airplane crash in Alaska the following year -- but he left an indelible mark in the minds of travelers.

     As a result of the film, the name Phileas Fogg came to represent adventure travel the world over, leading many to actually get up and go. To address this spirit of adventure a central source of travel information with books, maps, language materials, globes, and accessories was established in 1983 in downtown Palo Alto, CA. It was called Phileas Fogg’s Books and Maps for the Traveler. It was sold to Fred in 1985, who moved it to the Stanford Shopping Center in 1986, where it prospered for 15 years with weekly travel slide shows and workshops. Phileas Fogg’s Travel Agency was added within the bookstore to provide complete travel services from tickets to tours and all types of travel products.

     The story of Phileas Fogg’s Travel Bookstore exemplifies the business cycle from the start-up dream, to capital infusion, to the move and expansion that established its international reputation, to a wind-down and dissolution -- after a profitable sale that was aborted the day before the papers were to be signed -- due to the unforeseen circumstances that 9/11/2001 disaster had on travel.

     Adventure travel requires curiosity, fearlessness, endurance, flexibility and collaboration. These are the traits prized in Silicon Valley. While no longer in the travel business, the name Phileas Fogg continues with this new Fred Hornbruch adventure.