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Kahn sells--but steals the show

Always the showman, Philippe Kahn announces the sale of his company to Motorola via Webcast from a museum.

Philippe Kahn always has been a maverick with a flair for the dramatic. So he chose a Webcast to announce the surprise sale of his privately held Starfish Software to Motorola, complete with live jazz at the West Coast's newest major museum.

Kahn, a French mathematician whose colorful ways have

Philippe Kahn
Philippe Kahn
often stood out among the sterile high-tech landscape, invited the media to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art at 6 p.m. tonight to disclose the secret sale. Despite its serious nature, the Monday-night affair included a celebration of the merger with music by Tuck and Patti.

As of 9 p.m. PT, no written statement detailing the sale was anywhere to be found, and only general comments by Kahn and Motorola president Bob Growney alluded to the nature of the deal. "It is with great pride and honor that we are joining the Motorola team," Kahn said.

For those who couldn't attend, the "scoop" was fittingly available in cyberspace, via Webcast. It was sponsored by, an Internet company that--surprise, surprise--is set to go public this week. To listen, however, consumers were required to load plug-ins for their PCs. (RealMedia and Microsoft's NetShow were listed.)

Spokespeople were not available to say how many people tuned into the Webcast. According to a recent poll by the New York Times, more than half of those surveyed have never downloaded a program.

Webcasts may be here to stay, but the information they carry may be available only to those who care to load the software chosen by the announcement's sponsors.