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Oracle's Portal-to-Go to go public?

Rumors that pass the probability smell test are spreading like the Melissa virus at the Oracle campus, suggesting that Ellison, piqued to the boiling point at the company's failure to catch fire as a dot-com company, is planning to spin off the unit in charge of the 8i Lite database and the Portal-to-Go effort for gadget-based Weblications.

Being a single father has never cramped my style much. My 12-year-old son Vermel is an independent sort of kid. In fact, now that we're hooked up with DSL service at the house, I rarely see him. Occasionally there's a visit from some FBI agent on the cybercrimes unit, but apart from that he stays of trouble.

I'm a sentimental dad, and live in fear of the day Vermel walks into my office, announces he needs seed money to launch his start-up, and strikes out on his own. Well, I suppose it would beat paying college tuition.

Larry Ellison, by contrast, can barely contain his enthusiasm at the prospect of sending his corporate progeny out into the world. Rumors that pass the probability smell test are spreading like the Melissa virus at the Oracle campus, suggesting that Ellison, piqued to the boiling point at the company's failure to catch fire as a dot-com company, is planning to spin off the unit in charge of the 8i Lite database and the Portal-to-Go effort for gadget-based Weblications.

The group--headed by Denise Leahy (not returning the Rumor Mill's calls), VP of mobile and embedded products--is a celebrity member of the Redwood Shores campus these days. Skintelligent analysis says spinning off the unit is a good and plausible idea, considering the mad momentum for the mobile market, the trend among multibillion-dollar tech companies to unleash their Internet ventures, and the dot-com envy burning multimillion-dollar holes in Ellison's well-tailored suits.

Oracle's official comment on the matter: "We haven't announced anything." In other words, no comment--but stay tuned.

Speaking of spin-offs, do you know what San Jose Mercury News survivor (she quit) and gender discrimination accuser Chris Nolan has in common with the government of Cuba? The same lawyer, one Terry Gross, who has nothing in common with the host of the "Fresh Air" radio show on National Public Radio, as far as we know. Cuba: a fine nation, if my Garcia y Vegas cigars are any indication.

Some of you scoffed a while back when we predicted (correctly) that a lawsuit would be filed against Apple for using the "OS 9" moniker. But how many of you will question that RealNetworks named the successor to its G2 system the RealPlayer 7, not G3, because Apple had dibs on that name? Heard of any spin-offs of companies or personnel? Send me your rumors.