I promise not to start this column with gloomy economic news or another dot-com horror story. Instead, Ill focus on an upbeat item. Well, sort of. Like a mortician during a nuclear winter, Uecker & Associates is cleaning up the dot-com mess and laughing all the way to the bank.
The San Francisco-based company specializes in receivership, Chapter 11 plan administration, asset liquidations and other "last rights" for businesses that are on their death beds. Company president Susan L. Uecker is quite familiar with dot-com carnage and the rest of the high-tech scene. Her sister, Jodi Uecker-Rust, is COO of Great Plains Software. Look for this pair to keep making news over the next few months.
> Now heres a gutsy call. Merrill Lynch has downgraded Interliants stock from "Buy" to "Accumulate." The stock trades for about $3.50—down from a 52-week high of $50.50. Looks like Merrill is screaming fire after the theater burned to the ground.
> Keane is showing faith in its own business. The company plans to buy back up to 1.8 million shares because management believes Keanes stock is "significantly undervalued." Shareholders certainly hope Keane is right.
> FleetBoston Financial is banking its digital strategy on Digitas, a recent addition to our Partner Index. Digitas will design and deploy an e-commerce platform that supports all of Fleets business units, including Quick & Reilly and Robertson Stephens. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
> FalconStor, an IP-based storage management company, opens for business this week. Several veterans from CA and Cheyenne Software will run the bulk of the company. Sources say additional Cheyenne marketing veterans are interviewing at the company. Hey, wait a minute—Im a Cheyenne marketing veteran! But dont worry, folks. You wont see my name on FalconStors roster.
> Nortel CTO Bill Hawe has resigned "to seek other opportunities." He leaves Nortel amid an earnings shortfall and several shareholder lawsuits.
We told you a few weeks ago that Nortels sales were looking soft (SP, Jan. 15, p. 20, www. smartpartnermag.com/ issues). But the companys business has gone from bad to worse in recent days. If things dont improve, CEO John Roth jokes that he may need to hire a bodyguard. Remind me to do my next Roth interview over the phone. A face-to-face meeting sounds a little risky in this market.