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Palm bombs and dot-coms

Palm Computing employees experience a temporary evacuation, but iSyndicate staffers may find their employer permanently on a dead-pool site.

    NEW YORK--Undeterred by the fact that no one asked, I've decided to explain my presence in New York these past few weeks. Having gotten wind that various Internet personalities are collecting six-figure advances for their life stories, I decided to hop on the bandwagon and sell mine.

    So far I've taken a small army of literary agents to lunch, with mixed results. Generally, when they find out I write a family-oriented column and my company hasn't gone belly up, they start looking at their watches.

    If the rumor mill is to be believed, iSyndicate might be writing its memoirs any minute. Rumors have been rising and falling about this San Francisco online content syndication provider for months now, divided between predictions of its acquisition by ScreamingMedia or its outright demise.

    With the resurgence of rumors in recent days, Skinformants paint a dire picture of iSyndicate struggling to close deals and secure funding.

    "I heard that they are trying (to get bought), but it's going to be an asset sale at best," whispered one.

    iSyndicate and ScreamingMedia declined to comment.

    iSyndicate was one of the Internet's more promising content propositions at one time, scoring a hearty endorsement from investors including Microsoft and News Corp. just last year.

    But with the advertising bust, that promise turned to peril. "Essentially when the advertising business got whacked, so did the syndication of content," noted one Skintelligent observer.

    Nowadays, contractors submitting proposals to iSyndicate are being put off, told that a "major corporate initiative" is coming down the pike in the coming weeks. Could that be an acquisition? Wishful thinking? Cut-rate Aeron chairs?

    Palm bomb diffused with aplomb
    Last week, Palm Computing staffers got a scare as their Santa Clara, Calif., headquarters were evacuated in a bomb scare.

    Skinformants say a Palm VP was roaming the halls when he noticed what appeared to be a propane canister and a black briefcase sitting unattended in the hallway. No word if the witness heard a ticking sound emanating from the stray vessels, but the company confirmed accounts that the exec immediately phoned security.

    Security at the Palm campus prudently decided that bomb diffusion exceeded their job description, called 911, and evacuated the building.

    While staffers awaited the bomb squad, Chief Executive Carl Yankowski returned from his lunch break. On inquiring why the personnel of his troubled company was milling around in the California sunshine on a Monday afternoon, Yankowski was told of the mysterious propane tank and briefcase discovery and the resulting evacuation.

    This was Yahkowski's cue to explain to his troops that he had brought his home barbecue's fuel tank into the office so the company's concierge service could have it refilled.

    Skinformants report that Palm staffers subsequently enjoyed a productive afternoon.

    Sun scorches Java phones
    Sun Microsystems doubtless is pleased with the support cell phone makers and service providers showed for its Java software at the JavaOne conference last week. But two key partners--JavaOne gold sponsor Motorola and silver sponsor Nextel, which together are bringing Java phones to the United States--got an unpleasant glimpse of how some at Sun view their products.

    During the opening keynote, Sun gave places on the stage to Bill Werner, a corporate vice president of Motorola and general manager of the its iDEN Subscriber Group, and to Greg Santoro, vice president of wireless and Internet services at Nextel Communications.

    Not long after the two finished their sales pitch and left the stage, Sun chief researcher John Gage stood up to trumpet a competing model from Sharp Electronics sold by J-Phone East.

    "This is so superior to the junk we have in the United States," Gage said.

    Tact, too, is said to be more advanced in the Far East.

    Some news is good news
    Speaking of tact, Rumor Mill favorite Phil "Pud" Kaplan recently launched a younger, more cheerful sibling for his dot-com dead pool: LuckedCompany.com. As the name might suggest, LuckedCompany reports only good news--comparatively speaking.

    Pud told the Rumor Mill he launched the site to dispose of tips insufficiently dire for the flagship site.

    "What we're seeing is a lot of companies charging for stuff and being bought, sold or merged," Kaplan said. "Even if it's not what these companies were hoping for, being bought for pennies on the dollar, I consider it lucky."

    PR flacks hoping to make LuckedCompany--beware!

    "I don't rewrite corporate releases," Kaplan said. "Anything longer than three sentences, I don't read it." Keep me from writing my memoirs prematurely--send me your rumors.