As those of you familiar with my autoresponder know, I read all my email--or at least what my faithful assistant Trixie Pixel
deems appropriate. Somehow, this one slipped through:
ARE YOU REALLY SKINNY, OR JUST TOO LITE TO FIGHT AND TOO THIN TO WIN?
Cut to the quick, I skulked out of my cozy home office and stepped on the
bathroom scale. When I first started this gig, I suffered from InterButt, but years on the job
have whittled me to a splinter of my former self. Looking dejectedly
down at the dial, I saw the truth: I'm too skinny.
My 12-year-old son Vermel, who with his paramour, Ammonia
Blossom, has been apprenticing in the rumor trade, had a suggestion for me as I wolfed down my four-course breakfast.
"I noticed that Benchmark Capital just registered
CrossGain.com," said Vermel, who monitors domain name acquisitions for
kicks and tips. "Sounds like it's right up your alley--maybe you can sign up for their clinical trials."
I did some snooping of my own and my hopes were dashed. CrossGain, though
it may evoke thoughts of cross training and weight gaining, has nothing to do with either.
Instead, the stealth Redmond start-up looks like it will develop and host business-to-business
applications, perhaps invading the territory staked out by Hewlett-Packard with its e-services initiative.
CrossGain is headed by recently
departed Microsoftie and antitrust trial star Tod Nielsen. Nielsen was
VP in charge of developer relations at Microsoft for 12 years.
Nielsen couldn't be reached for comment, and CrossGain is keeping mum about
the exact nature of its business. People nosy enough to pry into the
CrossGain source code will have their wrists gently slapped: "We
have not yet announced our team or our products, so this Web site cannot
contain any detailed information about the company."
However useless for my physical fitness goals, CrossGain might be of
interest to any Microsofties who don't want to stick around until the courts chop the software behemoth into tiny pieces. CrossGain is
From the employment listings, we know that the start-up is "building an
Internet service that wires together businesses using XML"; new hires
will "design, build and maintain the data centers in which this service
will run"; and the service will run on "an intuitive application
programming model (supported by) sophisticated messaging and (Oracle) database
technology that allows many of these applications to coexist in a large
Phew! That's a mouthful, especially for someone as skinny as I am. But in the
place of "detailed information," it will have to do for now.
About that digital coal mine
Former freelancers for About--the "Human Internet" directory that
was the Mining Co. before it was About.com before it became merely
About--are in search of a little detailed information concerning their
compensation. Some of them suspect they're getting the shaft--but the Rumor
Mill found that the situation is more convoluted.
Turns out that these independent contractors signed contracts that provided
them no compensation for their work once they left the Web site. But in
December, the company dropped a letter assuring freelancers that in the
event they abandoned their posts as "guides," they would be paid for their material that stayed on the site.
Some of these former guides whose work remains on the site are wondering whether About has forgotten all About them.
"Until March of this year I was a guide at About.com, handling the city
site for Augusta, Ga., and travel site for Cruises," former guide
Linda Coffman wrote in an email interview with the Rumor Mill. "When I
left, I was told I would receive an accounting of the page views and
quarterly payment. I figured the second quarter ended on June 30th, and I
waited until July 31st--expecting to hear something. Nothing. No monthly
page view accounting, and no quarterly check."
Anita Dunham-Potter, a former About guide who wrote about Air
Travel, also spends lonely afternoons waiting by the postbox.
"My battle with About.com should be an important lesson for any writer,"
Dunham-Potter told the Rumor Mill, echoing the sentiments of recent
lawsuits by freelance writers whose work is being published on the Web ad
infinitum without additional compensation. "They need to know where their
content stands if they choose to leave. Do Web sites keep making money off
your hard work and you get nothing?"
About executives insist they're keeping their noncontractual promise to
compensate former guides. But apparently they haven't kept everyone up-to-date with the details of the compensation program. Nobody gets a check
until the grand total of royalty payments reaches $50, About execs
explained. And since many of the About pages in question are dated and not
drawing significant traffic, they speculate that some disgruntled former guides
may not have reached that magic $50 plateau.
Except Coffman, About execs said. They assured the Rumor Mill that her check is in the mail.
I'm going to spend the coming week eating like a champ. So feed me your rumors.