Culture

Tech firms too big for their britches

Some newly public firms are dancing in the streets about their good fortune. Rumor has it the booming initial public offering of networking start-up Tut Systems, which soared more than 200 percent on its first day of trading, had execs at the firm jigging as they calculated their net worth. No word if they were seen in the Valley pricing condos "made of stone-a."

This week I paid a long-overdue visit to Dr. Helmut Fraeme-Relais, renowned shrink to the rumor-plagued. Herr Doktor's business has really taken off since this whole Internet thing got going. Rumor has it he's planning an IPO in the spring.

And he's in good company! IPOs are popping up around here like Republican presidential hopefuls, only they're much more appealing. Add to the list of companies toying with public life Critical Path, the email outsourcer whose clients include Apple, Nike, Canon, and Tektronix.

"Critical Path's red herring is at the printer," whispered a Skinformant on his way out of Dr. Fraeme-Relais' office. "Looks like they're going to try and go public in Q1, while the Net stocks are still thumping."

Some newly public firms are dancing in the streets about their good fortune. Rumor has it the booming initial public offering of networking start-up Tut Systems, which soared more than 200 percent on its first day of trading, had execs at the firm jigging as they calculated their net worth. No word if they were seen in the Valley pricing condos "made of stone-a."

But public companies don't have all the fun. RedHat sure seems to be enjoying the recent Linux mania. This week, the Raleigh, NC-based company was in the midst of moving to bigger digs--a new facility five times larger than its original headquarters. But RedHat apparently dropped a few boxes en route; the company's Web page went dead during Thursday's move.

Much as I like to navel-gaze, I forgot to update you all on CNET's own moving plans/fantasies. The company is bidding to sprawl out on 23 acres in San Francisco's heavenly ex-military base, the Presidio. Earlier this month we became one of four finalists--word around here is that we might squeeze into the space along with one of the others, which include Lucasfilm.

More local news: a trusted tipster is advising me to keep an eye on San Francisco start-up Mobility.Net, which makes a suite of mail, calendaring, scheduling and threaded discussion software. "They're going to take the Web-based applications market by storm with their first product," I am advised. Any minute now we'll be trafficking in rumors about their IPO.

Is there dissent in the Windows CE ranks? A reader points my attention to the LGs Phenom Windows CE site, which pictures the Macintosh version of Netscape Navigator. Sounds like there's an agency or Webmaster with an Apple ax to grind....

On the topic of grudges, the folks at Netscapesucks.com and Whitehouse.com (who are the same folks) appear to have sparked a trend: Take a gander at these admirers of @Home and of Hotmail and you'll see what I mean. One reader tried to convince me that linuxsucks.com was owned by Microsoft, but I'm not that gullible.

Anyone hungry for some spam? There's plenty in my inbox, and I'm always happy to share. The origin of these timely witticisms is obscure, but if any of you knows it, I'm sure you'll inform me:

"The last few weeks have seen many mergers, and anticipating them could mean excellent market gains. Here are some likely mergers to expect in the future (edited for hilarity).

• Xerox and Wurlitzer: They're going to make reproductive organs.

• Fairchild Electronics and Honeywell Computers: New company will be called Fairwell Honeychild.

• Polygram Records, Warner Brothers, and Keebler: New company will be called Poly-Warner-Cracker.

• W. R. Grace, Fuller Brush, Mary Kay Cosmetics, and Hale Business Systems: New company will be called Hale Mary Fuller Grace.

• 3M & Goodyear: mmmGood

• John Deere & Abitibi-Price: Deere Abi

• 3M, J.C. Penney, Opera Software: 3 Penney Opera

• Grey Poupon & Dockers Pants: Poupon Pants

• Zippo Manufacturing, Audi, Dofasco, Dakota Mining: Zip Audi Do-Da

• Netscape & Yahoo: Net 'n' Yahoo"

My first merger didn't work out so well, but I haven't yet ruled out being acquired. Whisper some sweet rumors into my inbox.