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Vested Wired vets leave Lycos in the lurch

It's exactly a year since we breathlessly reported that Upside's enfant fatale (or is it femme terrible?) Tish Williams was being paid $70K per year for her editing gig.

It's exactly a year since we breathlessly reported that Upside's enfant fatale (or is it femme terrible?) Tish Williams was being paid $70K per year for her editing gig. We thought this was excessive for someone who wrote about the technology industry through the lens of her personal problems and bodily functions--I mean, even we can do that--but the one-year update is that Tish got robbed.

Turns out that the latest wave of insanity to hit the Web concerns the escalating remuneration of once-pooh-poohed content people. Once the suckers of the info age who watched their geek contemporaries become fêted and filthy rich, these folks are now pulling down major league ballplayer salaries and signing bonuses that could buy you a fixer-upper in San Francisco--that's seven figures, for the uninitiated.

Headhunters are dialing their fingers off to rope these people in ASAP for two reasons. One is that "old media" hacks have proven themselves to be uneducated about and unemployable on the Web. Two is that content isn't just for magazines anymore. It's for online stores, and auction sites, and brokerages. Anywhere you want to sell something, you need content to lure the shoppers, according to the prevailing trend--and if you want content you've got to shell out for a limited supply of Web-savvy editors, many of whom are midway through lucrative vesting schedules.

One option for the big dogs: If you can't hire, acquire! That was part of the strategy over at Lycos with its acquisition of Wired Digital, but it appears to be backfiring as the veteran talent that built the firm heads for the digital hills.

These include Hotwired executive editor Cate Corcoran, presumably tired of Wired having been hired in '94; and Paul Boutin, who helped build HotBot and LiveWired and has contributed editorial content to Webmonkey and Wired Magazine since enlisting in Louis and Jane's revolution in '96.

Corcoran and Boutin will pick up their Lycos stock packages at the end of the month as the deal officially closes; Skinformants report that more longtime employees are expected to start scheduling their exit interviews. Boutin heads for SendMail, while Corcoran joins a stealth start-up in San Francisco funded by Softbank and spearheaded by former Firefly prez Nick Grouf.

Speaking of start-ups, Lou Dobbs's Space.com isn't even live yet, and has already hit its first privacy snafu. The home page reads, "To get news on Space.com, give us your name and email address." Esteemed Net shrink John Grohol looked under the hood of the site to find that Space.com had unwittingly published the URL to the database containing the submitted names and addresses. Space.com was so busy cleaning up this mess they didn't return my assistant Trixie Pixel's phone calls.

Two navel-gazers--I promise I'll be quick. The first, overheard at Tuesday's opening gala for Sony's Metreon in San Francisco, was intrepid News.com reporter Rose Aguilar, graciously congratulating George Lucas on swiping the Presidio out from under us. Lucas, by way of consolation: "I hear you'll be getting in there too."

That's the nice rumor. The not-so-nice rumor circulating on ICQ is that all files obtained from CNET Download.com are infected with the CIH virus. The rumor is false, or even more so than the rest of what you read in this column.

MP3 fans will be delighted to learn what my son Vermel saw at the JavaOne conference. Sun had a Blaupunkt-branded MP3 software built into its Java-enhanced General Motors EV1 concept car. Some safety engineers at GM might object to the fact that the display was mounted more prominently than the speedometer.

Sun said there were 21,000 developers at the JavaOne conference this week, but Vermel would be surprised if more than 200 of them understood what was up with the people in the bizarre outfits who looked like a cross between the Cat in the Hat and the four basic food groups. After a little investigative reporting, the kid found out that they represented Sun's less-than-successful attempt to embody its "live, breathe, eat, drink, play, learn Java" theme.

Maybe Sun should have attended Michael Tchong and Lisa Mattioli's WebAttack in San Francisco this week. They might have learned something from keynoter "speaker" Dennis Rodman, who was less than articulate but--noted marketing whizzes in attendance--very effectively branded. Perhaps too well for his own good. Webby Awards honcho Tiffany Shlain noted that Rodman's branding was so effective when she had him as a judge a few years ago that she didn't invite him back. "He was all anybody wrote about," she complained. "We had Esther Dyson and Francis Ford Coppola,and nobody wrote about anything but Rodman."

It isn't easy being overexposed. People just take and take and take from you and never send you any rumors.

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