Look Whos Talking: June 4, 2001

Mergers and acquisitions can be tempting during a high-tech slump, but remember one thing: There's rarely a successful "merger of equals."

Mergers and acquisitions can be tempting during a high-tech slump, but remember one thing: Theres rarely a successful "merger of equals."

Take the case of Alcatel. The French networking giant walked away from the negotiation table last week when Lucent Technologies insisted on a merger of equals. That is, Lucent wanted equal representation on Alcatels board, in the corner offices, and so on.

I dont fault Lucent for making such demands, but Alcatel was wise to walk away from the deal. If you dont agree, take a look at the 1993 merger of SynOptics and Wellfleet, which formed Bay Networks. This "merger of equals" was a disaster from the start. Wellfleet spent too much time trying to appease SynOptics managers; some of them never accepted the fact that Wellfleet bought them out.

> They throw out first pitches, they christen new ships, and now politicians can even power up a new data center. Just ask New York Governor George Pataki, who was on hand last week when Cervalis, a start-up service provider, opened an Internet data center in Wappingers Falls, N.Y.

> Sometimes you can generate PR without an internal or external PR team. Such is the case at Mi8, the New York-based ASP. Marketing VP Patrick Fetterman sent me (and dozens of other journalists) a new corporate backgrounder last week. He noted that Mi8 "does not employ an external PR agency, nor do we have a dedicated PR person on staff." That begs for a great punch line, but Ill bite my tongue. Ive got too many sources in the PR community to question their value.

> Citrix has reversed course and restored Mark Templeton to the CEO position. Templeton was demoted last year, after Citrix suffered several earnings shortfalls. The company promised to find a new CEO, but the search apparently didnt go so well. I met Templeton a few years back when he ran marketing for Citrix. Smart guy, but some critics say Templeton doesnt manage Wall Streets expectations very well.

> Novell has kicked off a NetWare 6 road show. Youll find details at http://cns.novell. com/netware6bootcamp/index.cfm . Admittedly, Ive always been a bit hard on Novell because I covered the company when it was busy making bad acquisitions in the early and mid-1990s. Still, well be sure to accurately cover the NetWare 6 road show—if you want us to. Let me know at the address below.

Joseph C. Panettieri ([email protected]) is editor of [email protected] Partner.