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PointCast bleeds founders while Intel bunny flounders

This week proves it: there's no rest for the bleary.

This week proves it: there's no rest for the bleary. The morning after a late night spent with my collection of 12-year-old Scotch whiskies, I was peacefully sitting in my favorite chair with my trusty Skinkpad, reading the recent warmed-over news of ZD's plans to sell some books and spin off its online business--when all of a sudden a process server burst into the john and handed me a subpoena.

A veteran of some protracted legal struggles (thanks to my former wife), I am no stranger to these inquisitive documents. But such a comprehensive request caught me somewhat by surprise. How, after all, am I to turn over all notes, records, tape recordings, wiretaps, and/or disco remixes of any and all communications with or in any way, shape, or form related to Microsofties?

While my own legal ship takes on water, some concerned observers are wondering about the seaworthiness of the good ship PointCast. The company has been operating under something of a cloud since its initial public offering sank; the official explanation of the yanked IPO was that a well-heeled investor in shining armor was riding to the rescue (if we may mix our Titanic and Arthurian metaphors).

But it looks like some key PointCast players may have gotten tired of waiting. Senior vice president of marketing and founding member Jaleh Bisharat has jumped ship, taking along with her senior vice president of strategic sales and affiliate development Douglas Boake, an executive since May 1996.

Both Bisharat and Boake are headed off to an as-yet-unidentified e-commerce start-up funded by the deep pockets of Kleiner Perkins and Benchmark Capital. And by both Bisharat's and PointCast's accounts, the departures have everything to do with the love of start-ups, and nothing to do with the prognosis for PointCast.

"I've been at PointCast for three years and I think it's a great company," Bisharat told one of my News.com colleagues. "I had the most exciting time of my life there. This is not about leaving PointCast, it's about having this magnetic attraction to a start-up in an environment that's hot and getting hotter. For some people, like me, that's what this valley is all about."

Whatever this valley is all about, it is not about patience, and by valley time Bisharat has been waiting an eternity for PointCast to pay out. But the marketing whiz points out that she has vested most of her stock options in the company, and remains one of its fans.

Recent Pac Bell import Bob Sofman will add Bisharat's beat to his bailiwick, and strategic salesman Don Albert will pick up Boake's ad sales duties. PointCast tomorrow will announce how nicely integrated the company's operations now are, thanks to the defections.

Meanwhile, for those loyally waiting for PointCast's day in the Wall Street sun, I am reminded of a story Isaac Bashevis Singer used to tell about patience. In the old country, a certain shtetl hired a man for the sole purpose of keeping watch for the arrival of the Messiah. It did not pay very well, the story goes, but it was a steady job.

Steady jobs are the envy of many, especially down at Intel, where the Bunny People are getting jumpy. Rumor has it that the cute clean-room-suited characters that made MMX fun are headed for the Hasenpfeffer.

Sources say Intel has quietly shelved its bunny people ads and a large portion of the related campaign. New ads have appeared in the bunny space and the old ones are likely to remain in their warrens. Insiders say the campaign got too big and amorphous. The ads were a boon for highlighting workplace safety, but not for selling processors.

"My mom said, 'Oh, you work for the bunny company,'" one Intel Skinformant confided. Mom, however, couldn't identify what the company did.

One thing Intel does is invest in CNET: The Computer Network, which pays my salary and rakes the chip giant over the coals at every opportunity. While Vermel and I catch up on old Yosemite Sam reruns, I'm sending out a virtual subpoena for your rumors.