SAGINAW, Mich. (AP) -- Chad Shackley's 1999 Ferrari is a lesson in life.

So is his private jet. And his two chefs. And his $10 million house with three -- yes, three -- waterfalls.

The lesson? It pays to follow a dream.

Shackley is a high school dropout. He is also a multimillionaire.

At 16, he quit Bay City's Western High School to start Concentric Network Corp., one of the nation's first Internet service providers.

Today, at 24, he's the cofounder of another multimillion dollar Internet enterprise -- DEN, a new cyber-network targeting the interests of individuals age 14 to 24.

"I like to do things new and exciting," Shackley said.

Shackley and his partner, Marc Collins-Rector, 31, sold Concentric in 1995 to venture capital firms in California's Silicon Valley and New York.

Speculators peg the sale at $84 million. Not quite, he said.

"It was somewhat less than (that), but I don't discuss finances," Shackley said during a recent visit to mid-Michigan.

Hank Norhhaft, a former GTE Telenet executive, moved Concentric's headquarters to San Jose, Calif., four years ago when he became president and chief executive officer, to get the company closer to technology leaders, talent and financing sources.

"Investment banks wanted to bring in professional management," Shackley said.

"They wanted to bring in somebody traditional. We had been (managing) it for four years, but day-to-day management of a company is not what I'm interested in."

Concentric now has 600 employees. More than 200 work in its Saginaw Township office. The company also has offices in St. Louis and Newport Beach, Calif.

New production

After a move to California and a hiatus from the working world, Shackley jumped back into high-tech innovation.

DEN -- Digital Entertainment Network -- is a privately held 220-employee company based in Santa Monica, Calif.

DEN's technical specialists are developing an entertainment production and distribution cyber-network to deliver television-quality programming to teen-agers and 20-somethings who are as quick with punching the buttons on a computer as they are with a remote control.

Extreme sports, punk rock, an electronic music interview show featuring the newest celebrity disc jockeys, a program focusing on a behind-the-scenes view of contemporary urban music and film events, lifestyles and discussions, and a comedy music video parody are among dozens of shows the company plans to distribute from its Web site, Shackley said.

"I don't like to reinvent things," he noted. "We're producing entertainment television shows with interactivity. We have about 15 shows online right now. We're starting our own movie production company."

The company has more than 25 investors, including Microsoft Corp, Dell Computer Corp. and Chase Capital Partners of New York City, Shackley said.

Big-dollar contracts

DEN officials have signed advertising contracts worth more than $12.5 million with the Dearborn-based Ford Motor Co. and Pepsico, headquartered in Purchase, N.Y.

Ford has an "exclusive" automotive marketing partnership with the high-tech company, said David Ropes, Ford's director of corporate advertising.

DEN's programs are designed for baby boomer offspring, known as the "echo boomers" or the "Y" generation, a group of more than 70 million people, Ropes said.

It's the first interactive generation of online users who aren't regular television watchers, Ropes noted.

"You can watch a program on your time," Ropes said. "You can determine what you want to watch and when you want to watch it. You can stop the program at any time."

New shows in production range from travel to fraternity life. There are self-help programs, a health show and the "Limousine Hour," which conducts six-minute interviews with young Hollywood stars.

"We plan to become the Time Warner of the Internet," Shackley said. "It's cool."

At home in Bay City

Shackley -- the oldest of three sons of Bay City residents Larry and Chris Shackley -- was a model child. Teachers praised his work.

"He was pretty much an ideal kid," Larry Shackley said. "He was intelligent, creative, very meticulous and focused with anything he pursued."

Comics and newspaper stories captured his interest before he enrolled in kindergarten, his father said.

"At a parent-teacher conference, teachers raved about him," said Larry Shackley.

Cutting the apron strings was not a snap decision, the Shackleys said.

The family spent two months discussing Chad's plans, and they consulted an attorney.

"We had a lot of concerns," Chris Shackley said. "We took it very seriously. We were trying to find the best way to manage it so it had a good outcome."

In 1992, Bay City school officials tried to persuade Shackley to finish his junior and senior years. Shackley, who was student council president for three years, carried a 3.7 grade-point average.

Classmates remember Shackley excelled academically but never boasted about his accomplishments.

"He was so intelligent but so down to earth," said Carrie Kolb, 23, a former classmate. "Success wouldn't change him."

One of the first users of Internet bulletin boards, Shackley hit it off with Collins-Rector on the World Wide Web. Collins-Rector was living in New York City at the time.

"The main reason we both met is because we were gay and both interested in computers," Shackley said.

And he was determined to follow his intuition.

"He was very bright, very personable, not a nerd kind of kid," said Alan L. Bryant, who retired in 1998 after 25 years as principal of Western.

"We were all concerned about him leaving … Now he's making a jillion dollars. What did we know?"

Family support

When Shackley and Collins-Rector outgrew their New York apartment, they moved to Bay City to work in the garage of a $46,000 house Larry Shackley renovated.

Seven months later, they were hunting for a new office in an abandoned Bay City warehouse.

Financial consultants advised Chad Shackley and Collins-Rector to sell in 1995, when the price was right.

"They needed capital to keep on moving," Larry Shackley said. "I bought stock in the company. It was a good move financially."

Chad Shackley and Collins-Rector now live in a three-story, 16,000-square-foot house surrounded by a tennis court, swimming pool and three waterfalls on a heavily wooded 2-acre lot in Encino, north of Los Angeles.

Shackley's youngest brother, Scott, 17, lives with him and attends Montclair Prep School. Another brother, Kevin, is a sophomore at Saginaw Valley State University, majoring in computers.

"Being successful lets you do a lot of nice things," Chad Shackley said.

"Persistence paid off. I had to trust my instincts. I'm pretty happy that I had the guts to take a chance when everyone was so skeptical. It really helps build your confidence.

"If the timing had been different, I would've finished high school. People need a backup plan in place, like getting a high school and college education. But you can't always put things on hold for 1 1/2 years."

Labor-intensive days now have given way to more relaxed work weeks, Shackley said.

"We worked 24 hours a day for three years at Concentric," he said, admitting to some exaggeration in the figure. "That's enough."

"We still work a lot, but it's a good thing we have a lot of high-class executives to do the day-to-day work," he said. "We're the founders of the company. We're the visionaries.

"With 200 people running around, its chaotic. It's hard to brainstorm and come up with new ideas.

"It's nice to stay home and think in peace and quiet."