The Buzz: August 19, 2002

Financial moves were afoot in the wireless hardware industry last week.

CFO Appointed; Symbol Probed

Financial moves were afoot in the wireless hardware industry last week. Handspring named a new chief financial officer, while Symbol Technologies said it is being investigated by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

William Slakey will take the CFO position at Handspring Sept. 30. Slakey most recently was CFO at WJ Communications and, before that, was CFO at SnapTrack. Slakey replaces Bernard Whitney, who left June 30.

Meanwhile, the SEC is investigating Symbols revenues for last year. The company has produced documents in response to the SEC inquiries, according to papers filed by Symbol. In addition, Symbol has launched its own investigation.

IBM to Slash 15,600 Jobs

On the heels of its $3.5 billion plan to buy the services unit of PricewaterhouseCoopers, IBM last week disclosed it will cut 15,600 jobs—or about 5 percent of its work force—by the end of next month.

According to an SEC filing, IBM said most of the cuts will come from its services business, with about 1,400 jobs being eliminated from its microelectronics division. The cuts were not surprising. CEO Sam Palmisano in May agreed with an analyst estimate of 20,000 layoffs, calling it "absolutely appropriate at a macro level."

At the end of last year, IBM had about 320,000 employees worldwide. As part of the PricewaterhouseCoopers deal, IBM will be taking on 30,000 more.

Sex.Com Suit Hits Appellate Court

The long-simmering dispute over the domain name reached the appellate court level last week.

The U.S. Court of Appeals last week heard arguments over whether VeriSign, which issues domain names, is liable for a fraudulent letter that led it to transfer the domain name.

Gary Kremen was awarded the domain in 1994, but Stephen Cohen apparently sent the forged letter that led to his getting the lucrative domain. Last year, Kremen won the name back in a lawsuit and was awarded $65 million in damages, money he has yet to see because Cohen cannot be found.

Kremens lawyers argue that VeriSign is liable for its actions, a contention VeriSign disputes.