August 16 – 22, 1999

from the Up-To-Date dept

the death of the IPO, Instant Messenging code, intellectual property, and catfights, MCI’s network down for the count, studies galore, and the usual mix of IPOs, earnings reports and completely pointless commentary. For all that and more click below for this week’s Up-To-Date…

				The not always serious, 
				not always weekly update
				on the High-Tech Industry
				August 16th - August 22nd, 1999 
	Psst!  Wanna buy some Iridium stock?  I hear it's big in Mexico

Techdirt on the Web
Welcome to all the new folks, and there've been a lot of subscriptions
recently.  Trying to get back on a more regular publishing schedule as we
move into the fall, but remember, whether or not Up-To-Date comes out, is still updating you daily on the web.

Vote in the latest poll:
Why is August a terrible month to have an IPO?

and, in case you missed the last poll:
What's your opinion of Day Trading?

And, some of the fun stories on Techdirt this week:

AT&T suing Intel over a $5,000 phone bill:

For students have no sense of humor and feel the bizarre need to protest
just about anything, why not protest's commercials for making
students seem dumb:'s declared profits, but it was really a big accident:

Do you have an opinion on brain implants?  Join the discussion:

Say that again...
"This thing has gone from unbelievable to unbearable to now unforgivable."
- Ken McGee, Gartner Group analyst on the MCI Worldcom network outage that
happened intermittently over 10 days

"We don't see this as a flaw. It is a concern."
- Allen Beckerdite, CTO of Reciprocal, on the fact that Microsoft's new
"secure" music format isn't so secure.

"We recognize that a vendor has the right to sell through whatever
distribution channels it desires. However, we too have the right to be
selective in regard to the vendors we select and we trust that you
understand that a company may be hesitant to do business with its
- A letter from Home Depot to its suppliers basically threatening them if
they decide to sell direct online.

"Trading is a fairly bloody business - minus the violence - in that it
needs a constant influx of new losers. Extending trading hours will allow
more losers to enter the game, which is great."
- Alexander Elder, author of "Trading for a Living", getting ready for
extended trading hours.

"I stop the cab at the side of the road if I have to make a trade. Safety
- Carlos Rubino, taxi cab driver and day trader (apparently, at the same

Earnings Reports, IPOs and the like
HP had a big increase in profits, and surprised everyone... Dell's profits
also rose (by more than HPs) and they also beat estimates... Lycos posts a
surprise profit (I think even they were surprised)...
revenues increased a lot last quarter... Quantum cutting 800 jobs as the
company continues to struggle... IPOs are becoming fewer and fewer these
days: Wink Communications and MyPoints had very good IPOs, but and didn't have the same sort of lift....
Other companies, such as and, have delayed their IPOs
due to the market... Of course, that doesn't mean there still isn't money
out there for startups. picked up $29 million this week from
high flyers Accel and Sequoia... 

Rumors, Conspiracies etc. of the week...
Sun to buy Star Office, the software that is a free "clone" of Microsoft
Office... Apple's iBook color scheme chosen to match with the Gap's latest
product line (Gap CEO is now on Apple's board)... to buy online
pioneer Echo... 

News you should have read elsewhere
MCI WorldCom had 10 days of intermittent network outages, and people are
pissed off, though MCI seems to just be blaming Lucent and trying to sweep
the issue under the rug (it was just 10 days, after all)... Intel has
decided to drop its graphics chip business (not so long after they were
making a big push into that area)... 

News you could do without
Sony PlayStation and Nintendo cut prices on their machines as they get
ready for the release of the latest Sega Dreamcast... Court finds that AOL
doesn't have a trademark on "you've got mail", "buddy list" or "IM" (and we
all feel sooo sorry for them, right?)... CBS buys into more web properties,
this time it's, a car site, and, which is self
explanatory... AOL hits 18 million customers... Consumer groups are now
protesting the AT&T-MediOne merger (somehow I think those "consumer groups"
are supported by some non-consumer companies)... Lycos finally catches up
to Yahoo by offering a "build your own store" feature... Oracle signs on
with HP to help them develop e-speak and no one cares... suing for stealing and being generally obnoxious in copying their web
site. plays dumb (and looks dumb)... Home Depot goes full out on
the web (and, more importantly, threatens all their suppliers to get off
the web - ouch)... Battle lines being drawn in the "next generation
television" space as AOL invests in Tivo and a bunch of media companies
(including Time Warner, Disney and Showtime) invest in Replay... 4 folks in
NY are charged with manipulating stock values through a newsletter (um,
okay, time for me to be careful)... The US Justice Dept wants access to all
our computers and stuff (and all the typical scary stuff that you always
hear about)... Apple is suing eMachines for not thinking different
enough... GPS system rolls over and the Earth continues to revolve around
the sun (phew)..., the new site from Michael Ovitz, doesn't
realize the good deal they offer "pre-registered" users is going to get
sent around to *everyone* on the internet, and pulls the plug on their

Dutch publishing company VNU buys Nielsen Media Research for almost $3
billion... AOL's President, Bob Pittman is now on's
Board of Directors... Excite@Home puts a ton of money into
Benchmark Capital and Toys "R" Us break off their deal to work together on, claiming a difference of "vision" (meaning Toys "R" Us doesn't
want to hear what Benchmark tells them the internet is about)... Microsoft,
playing the part of the wounded underdog company (ha ha), has decided to
publish the specs for their messenger product (now we feel for them,
right?).  It's a good thing, too, because it turns out that Messenger
reveals users' passwords to just about anyone... Cisco and Apple dump a ton
of money into Akamai... Iridium, enjoying its Chapter 11 status, is going
to expand into Mexico...'s founder is leaving (well, he's got
enough money these days)... HP tells folks to skip Merced (pretty bad,
considering they're half the design team)... Motorola buys Metrowerks...
Big name VCs ditching IVP and Brentwood to form a new, Internet only, VC

(Mis)Uses of Technology:
Tiny little computers... Levi's new SF store keeps biometric customer
data... Hydrogen powered cars... Internet kiosks at your local gas
station... Goodwill has an online auction site?... SBC's "email only" phone
service... 7-Eleven to offer online "virtual" Slurpees that you can send to
your friends (now, *this* is what web progress is all about)... Amazon sets
up "Purchase Circles" which is basically a good way to create peer pressure
to buy stuff... eBay pager from SkyTel... Iridium shares (which are
suspended from trading due to that whole Chapter 11 thing) are up for sale
on eBay (at a slight premium)... MP3 Anywhere lets you broadcast MP3s from
your computer to your stereo... 

Maybe the US isn't so prepared for Y2K afterall.  The General Accounting
Office has found that only 3 states have proven they're ready, and the Navy
has released a report suggesting that many cities may experience water and
electrical system failures (comforting)... More than 3 times the number of
current online investors should be trading online in the near future,
according to Gomez Advisors... Nielsen reports that the amount of time
spent on the Internet went up in July as compared to May (apparently, the
summer hasn't dragged folks outside)... A new report from predicts
e-commerce sales this year will surpass $36 billion (as opposed to $15
billion last year)... Spending on internet advertising rose last month and
people are making a much bigger deal of that fact than they should... A
study from Purdue University, shows that companies that add a .com to their
name increase their valuation significantly, no matter what they actually
do... 29% of farmers in the US are connected to the Internet according to
the US Agriculture Department... 

E*Trade getting into after-hours trading.  Is this a good thing/bad thing?
Does it really matter?... Universities having sponsored web sites...
Another virus for everyone to scared about, this one to make all the news
on Christmas Day... 

Sega Dreamcast is going to flop (okay, okay, that one was too easy)... 

Too much free time:
The ever useful "Customers Suck" web site:
Reminds me of: which I
have hanging above my desk.

Up To Date is written by Mike Masnick from whatever news he hears from 
whatever sources they happen to come from.  It is not intended for any uses 
other than as one of many possible ways to follow what's going on in the 
hi-tech industry.  I certainly wouldn't rely on it as your only source of
info.  And, of course, my comments may not accurately reflect reality.
Finally, an explicit warning about investing: I do not, under any
circumstance, consider any piece of information in this newsletter
"investment advice" and neither should you.

If you would like to subscribe to the email version please send an email to with "Subscribe Up-To-Date" in the subject heading. 
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