Operator No. 9: March 5, 2001

Readers of The Washington Post aren't the only ones with verbal flair.

No Wordmongering Here

Readers of The Washington Post arent the only ones with verbal flair. I asked Interactive Week staffers to participate in our own Internet version of the Posts Style Invitational, in which readers are asked to pick any word from the dictionary, alter it by adding, subtracting or changing one letter, and then supply a new definition. Our verbal exuberance led to the creation of: Internot, what you get when your Digital Subscriber Line goes down; dot-coma, the condition of a Web firm just before death, at which point it becomes a not-com; and Microsofa, a rapacious company accused of monopolizing the divan trade. Not esoteric enough for your taste? Try PCP-IP, a mind-altering protocol.

Remote Control Shopping

Unrepentant cartoon watcher Margaret Gaillard, who also happens to be AT&T Broadbands director of technical operations, confesses that if she had interactive television — yknow, push a button, buy what you see — her nieces birthday gift would be the keychain-sized MP3 player advertised again and again during the Saturday morning lineup a few weeks ago. "I would have bought it right then. Now I cant remember what its called. So shes getting a shirt. Or something else shell probably hate." Since Im usually asleep during the Saturday morning cartoon-o-rama, I dont have a clue as to what Gaillard was talking about. But hey, Margaret, Id recommend a trip to The Gadgeteer. I didnt see the keychain MP3 player, but they offer a Sea Monkey Aquarium Watch, which is not something you see every day.

An Urge to Purge

Oh, those conscientious Chinese. Reuters reports from Beijing that the Ministry of Public Security released new software to keep "cults, sex and violence" off the Net in China. Called Internet Police 110, after the emergency police telephone number in China, the software, a public official reportedly said, "prevents users from getting unhealthy information from foreign and domestic Web sites . . . It was designed to block information of cults, sex and violence on the Internet." Isnt that nice? Reuters didnt get an answer when it asked whether China was making installation of the software — available in versions for homes, Internet cafés and schools — mandatory. FYI: China makes a habit of blocking Web sites it believes might upset the sensibilities of its citizens. Those include sites of the Western media, which, of course, means no Survivor news! Hmmm. Maybe censorship does have some rewards.

Oh No, IPO!

Do you miss the flocks of initial public offerings that flew out of the corporate nests a year ago? Only nine fledglings have made it out into the world this year, while 43 have been yanked back to safety. Only one, Cellomics, is hanging on, hoping to take off when nicer weather returns. Meanwhile, 19 parents expect their darlings to soar . . . sometime. Here are some fun facts about the Internet IPO market:

IPOs filed in 2001: 19IPOs priced in 2001: 9IPOs postponed in 2001: 1IPOs withdrawn in 2001: 43IPOs priced in 2001 that had previously postponed their offering: 2IPOs priced in 2001 with final offering amounts higher than the original estimated offering amounts: 2IPOs priced in 2001 trading on the New York Stock Exchange: 2

Never Let Facts Stand in Your Way

If the U.S. still lags behind Europe and Japan in the wireless biz, somebody needs to tell Jack Kemp. The former National Football League star/senator/secretary/vice presidential candidate and campaign reformer headlined a launch party for wireless portal developer YadaYada, at the Hush nightclub in the heart of Manhattans Silicon Alley. Kemp, who is a major investor in YadaYada, was anything but quiet. After blaming the state of the economy on Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan and banging the "Al Gore invented the Internet" drum one more time just for those of us who didnt hear it the first thousand times, Kemp said the U.S. leads the wireless market. I guess we shouldnt pay attention to the overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

Gettin Jiggy in Cannes

Its only right that someone famous shows up at the annual GSM World Congress — after all, the conference is in Cannes, France. Each year, a few of the major vendors throw parties featuring a major surprise act, and half the fun of the party is speculating on just who that act may be. This year, the rumor mill predicted George Michael and Will Smith. Well, one of those was half-right — one of the parties did, indeed, feature a Will Smith imitator. Its a good bet that the act was probably on a par with last years Australian ABBA look-alike band. But for reality entertainment, lucky conference attendees this year got to see The Commitments performing in the flesh.

Show Me the Money

Selling dot-com stocks paid off for someone last year — the bigger financial firms. The Goldman Sachs Group awarded Chief Executive Henry M. Paulson a bonus of more than $14.6 million in 2000. President and co-Chief Operating Officer John A. Thain took home a $12.1 million bonus, as did John L. Thornton. Meanwhile, Robert J. Hurst, director and vice chairman, made do with a $10.2 million bonus. Morgan Stanley Dean Witter also had at least four members in the esteemed eight-figure bonus club. Peter F. Karches, former president and COO of Morgan Stanleys Institutional Securities and Investment Banking Group, received a $23.6 million bonus. CEO Philip J. Purcell and former President and COO John J. Mack both bagged pay packages exceeding $13.3 million. And thats in an off year. Can you imagine what they would have taken down in good times? I know, I know — thats life, thats capitalism.

Show Me Even More Money

While panelists at a recent Women in Cable & Telecommunications lunch politely mulled over what they considered the loftiest barriers to the full-scale deployment of interactive television — the technology that will someday bring e-commerce functions to the boob tube — an AT&T Broadband wag hissed her answer: "Its called massive capital investment." Thats why I like to sit at the back of the room.

More Word Fun

Theres also conline, a term coined by investors at the turn of the century to describe business plans that championed the wresting of profit from commerce carried out on the Web. And for those of you who enjoy following the foibles of the economy, theres Greenswan, somebody who once had an uncanny ability to understand financial markets and make perfect investment decisions, but inexplicably, after years of doing everything right, began to make wildly bad decisions that caused peoples portfolios to take a "swan dive." Thats not to be confused with the verb "to Greenswan," which is to suddenly follow a period of supremely good investment decisions with a flurry of bad investment decisions, based on improper readings of financial markets, that "swan dive" the value of the financial portfolios. Think you can do better? Send your contributions my way.