January 31 – February 6, 2000

from the Up-To-Date dept

Amazon’s earnings stuff, lots of questions about privacy violations, more lawsuits (of course), more mergers (of course), more IPOs (of course), more earnings made up mainly of losses (of course). Plus, lots of other fun stuff. It’s the latest issue of the Up-To-Date Newsletter. Click “Read More” below for the full newsletter…

				The not always serious, 
				not always weekly update
				on the High-Tech Industry
				January 31 - February 6, 2000 
			Telling folks exactly what they want to hear	

Random Notes
Yes, once again here's the boring section that most of you skip over
anyway.  If you're interested, Techdirt has continued to jump up in traffic
over the past couple of weeks.  Most recently we were mentioned in Canada's
Globe and Mail which, my Canadian friends inform me, is a pretty damn big
paper up there.  Random traffic jumps have me thinking that we've also been
mentioned elsewhere (beyond Geekboys and Inter@ctive Week, which both
happened two weeks ago) so if you happened to discover Techdirt recently
and it wasn't from one of these sources, feel free to let me know where you
came from.  Thanks.

Techdirt on the Web
Techdirt Poll: Just what is your opinion on internet privacy anyway?
Curious, prying, intrusive minds want to know:

It seems like there are thousands of so-called "expert sites" out there.
Do you trust the experts you speak to?

Have you ever tried to prevent friends from using AOL?

Are micropayments the next big thing?  Seems to be a lot of talk about them

And, as always, there's plenty more stuff at https://www.techdirt.com/
updated most every weekday.

Say that again...
"A few years ago the field was lush. Now there are hundreds of cows
scrambling for five blades of grass."
- Henry Blodget, Merrill Lynch's internet analsyt, discussing e-commerce
companies.  And, who could (I might add) be accused of adding to the
original hype creating all those damn cows.

"In a few years the e will fall out of e-commerce and go back to its role
as the fifth letter in the alphabet."
- Unidentified business professor at the World Economic Forum in Davos,

"Assign a totally different CEO and tell them to go kill this sister company."
- Masayoshi Son, CEO of Softbank, on how brick-and-mortar companies should
structure their internet subsidiaries.

"My only hope is that the millions of dollars that the company spent on
that silly and oblique Super Bowl ad will empty the company's coffers and
put them out of business."
- Janelle Brown, Salon.com columnist on the horrible business model (spam
your friends!!) of epidemic.com

"Most would have been better off putting their names and Web addresses on
for 30 seconds, rather than being cute."
- David Stewart, University of Southern California marketing professor
discussing the Super Bowl ads

Earnings Reports, IPOs and the like
Amazon laid off approximately 150 employees this week (not normal for a
"growth" company), which was quickly ignored because their earnings came
out.  While they were losing a hell of a lot more than ever before (and
well more than expected), it's based on higher revenues *and* the book
selling part was profitable - so all is forgiven.  Of course, if you look
at the numbers carefully (and only a very few did) you could make the
argument that even the book business isn't profitable.  Bezos, however,
claims they're "turning the corner" and everyone jumps for joy and pushes
the stock up because that's what they want to hear... AT&T and Bellsouth
are both laying off plenty of folks... Listen.com raises lots o' cash from
all the major record labels and Madonna's record label (does she get a seat
on the Board?)... Some good IPOs this week: Turnstone and IMPSAT both had
nice first day jumps... Expedia not losing as much as expected... Earthweb
still losing lots of money, but not as bad as expected... E-Stamp, however,
is losing a lot more than expected... Two big e-commerce sites should go
out this week.  Buy.com and Pets.com's debuts should tell us whether the
market is still eager to slurp up B2C e-commerce offerings... 

Rumors, Conspiracies etc. of the week...
An interesting report from CNet concerning the odd provision that Time
Warner has concerning a takeover.  It seems that their execs have their
options vest at the point a takeover is announced, rather than closed.
This means that many of the top execs are now fully vested and can take off
before the deal closes - which in turn, could potentially jeopardize the
deal... Well, not much came over the wire in terms of rumors and
conspiracies this week, so I'll just have to use this section to
congratulate The Register for the best headline I saw this week: "Sad
Geezer Auctions Himself on eBay".  Valentines Day depression and computers
shouldn't be mixed... 

News you should have read elsewhere
Vivendi and Vodaphone make a deal to create a web portal, but only if
Vodaphone and Mannesmann merge (if not, then Vivendi will just work with
Mannesmann), which means this deal means nothing unless: Oh, that's right,
later in the week Mannesmann and Vodaphone announce a happy merger doing
away with all that hostile stuff... Bill Gates has assured everyone that
they're not looking to do any more mergers following on AOL-Time Warner...
Yahoo's Tim Koogle has assured everyone that they're not looking to do any
more mergers following on AOL-Time Warner (though lots of folks have
approached them)... How about a Yahoo-Microsoft merger to really make
people happy?... The Justice Department is looking into eBay's blocking of
other sites listing eBay's auctions.  (can't you hear the folks over at
AuctionWatch throwing a party right about now?)... 

News you could do without
CNet and the Associated Press entered into an agreement whereby AP will
distribute about five News.com articles a day... DoubleClick is being sued
following last weeks revelation (like this was a big surprise?) that, oh
yeah, now that they owned Abacus Direct they could, would (and already do)
track individuals as they surf around the web.  The lawsuit contends that
DoubleClick is doing this without the users' consent... Also this week
DoubleClick announced plans to serve lower volume sites than their standard
customers.  This ought to put pressure on smaller advertising networks (oh,
wait, CMGI has already bought all of those guys up)... The consumer edition
of Microsoft's latest OS will be called Windows Millenium Edition:
shortened to the sickeningly cute Windows ME... Class action lawsuit
against AOL for crippling other ISPs with their new AOL 5.0 installer...
Also, AOL now has 21 million users, many of whom have happily crippled
other ISPs... FCC is all for wireless internet (aren't we all?)... Kodak
and HP launch digital film service (I actually think this is pretty
interesting - watching Kodak deal with digital photography has always been
an interest of mine - now, let's see the execution)... Microsoft has
"adopted" a town in Texas to try to convince them to file all their taxes
electronically... iCraveTV shut down by lawsuits from just about everyone
concerning their "rebroadcasting" of television content (however,
apparently an agreement is likely soon)... 

Amazon is investing in every company around these days.  This week they
picked up pieces of Audible, Living.com, and Greg Manning Auctions... The
FTC is reviewing some online brokerage ads for suggesting that it's easy to
become rich trading online (well, isn't it?)... Go.com more or less
admitted that their broad internet portal strategy wasn't working and have
decided to focus... They also have been forced to ditch their logo due to
the GoTo.com lawsuit (I like the new logo better, but people tell me I have
the graphical taste of a blind orangutan)... VA Linux buys Andover.net for
around a billion?  Wow.  That means Techdirt must be worth at least a few
dollars to some moron (morons welcome to make offers)... A Virginia winery
is suing over a New York law that forbids shipping wines directly to
consumers in the state... The estate of P.G. Wodehouse wants a bit of that
dot com magic and thus are "discussing" the rights to his character Jeeves,
which AskJeeves.com neglected to license... The NSA's computer system was
down for 72 hours (how is this possible? And will they start snooping
through my computer for mentioning this?)... 

(Mis)Uses of Technology:
You can now buy Kmart stock at Kmart's online site (can we make jokes about
bluelight specials on their stock?)... Posting porn on an Australian server
will get you in trouble, but gambling online in Australia is the next big
thing (apparently those two vices don't go together, after all)... A
lawsuit is being filed against Sony for putting links on music CDs they
sell that drive traffic to the online Sony stores.  It seems the retail
establishments that sell those CDs in the first place aren't happy that
these customers aren't being told to go back to the original point of
purchase.  Welcome to internet channel conflict... That stupid Pets.com
sock puppet selling for many thousands of dollars on Amazon Auctions (note
to idiot buyer: it's a *sock puppet*)... 

According to the California HealthCare Foundation online medical sites are
not at all careful about their privacy policies.  While many have privacy
policies, few follow them, and lots of personal data is not protected...
Greenfield Online tells us that about one-half of online shoppers believe
the internet is a good place to look for cheap deals (imagine that!)... A
study from Jupiter shows that while 45% of online users look up health
information many are afraid to buy health care products online... 

The domain loans.com sells for $3 million (thankfully, not on eBay)...
Giving away college scholarships online... Lego-based college admissions
tests (no one cares for details any more as long as the headline looks
cool)... Ford giving its workers free PCs and cheapo internet access...
Delta doing pretty much the same thing... Contentville.com... 

South Carolina is now trying to pass some legislation that would find
libraries *criminally* negligent for not blocking access to online
pornography on library computers.  This seems extreme and stupid, and
therefore will probably pass... 

Too much free time:
I sense this very web page will cause a new entry on the page itself.  This
one is for anyone experienced in the wonderfully fun art of "arguing" with
a significant other.  In the spirit of the dreadfully quickly approaching
Valentines Day: http://www.wlv.ac.uk/~in5185/things.html

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.

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