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Culture

Rumor Mill: Clark and Bark embark on a lark

Jim Clark is preparing for the role of chairman of a new start-up set to debut next month, supported by such familiar faces as Jim Barksdale.

    In the process of writing last week's column on the health hazards associated with AOL chat rooms, I was forced to do some hands-on research. Before I knew what was happening, I scored a date with a sailor of the fair sex with a slip in Sausalito.

    She wined and dined me on an evening Bay cruise, which ended abruptly after my head made sudden contact with her boom. I concluded the evening in a Marin County emergency room with a mild concussion--and the renewed conviction that online dating, like boating and life itself, remains a hazardous enterprise.

    Larry "Planes, Trains and Automobiles" Ellison knows a thing or two about maritime hazards, having barely survived the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race a few years back. But sources say the database magnate is suffering worse stress as his floating tiki bar encounters more delays than a Mozilla browser release.

    Skinformants tell us a German company has been working on Ellison's new boat for years now, constructing life-sized models of the top floor--a dance hall, incidentally. Ellison is said to be pressuring the builders to make the boat go faster than the original design had intended, once again demonstrating the affinity between boat construction and software development.

    Other high-tech boaters whose names are grinding through the rumor mill include Jim Clark, the start-up addict who is said to be following up on his SGI, Netscape, Healtheon and MyCFO acts with the role of chairman of a new start-up set to debut next month.

    Formerly known as DanaStreet, and newly renamed Neoteris, the start-up is "developing innovative new products that deliver simple, secure access to corporate networks...revolutionizing companies' ability to connect to others."

    Revolutionizing is a word not heard so much anymore around these parts, bearing as it does such strong associations of financial ruin, but Clark has never been one to think small, or modestly. Nowadays he seems to be thinking in Greek and Latin at the same time, as the start-up's hybrid name suggests.

    But while Chairman Clark may be settling "new land" with Neoteris, he's doing it with some awfully familiar faces. With few exceptions, Clark's entire management team is gleaned from the ranks of WebMD, which merged with Healtheon in 1999, before the two were admitted to the Internet's overcrowded sick bay.

    Neoteris CEO Krishna 'Kittu' Kolluri was a senior VP and general manager at WebMD (he also did a stint at Clark's SGI, working on interactive television); Vice President of Product Management Sam Srinivas did time at WebMD as well; CTO Theron Tock was WebMD's chief engineer; Director of Engineering Shyam Davuluru and Principal Engineer Surya Koneru were senior engineers at WebMD; and Director of Program Management Larry Ristow was WebMD's director of implementation and professional services for its Employer Services Division. It all leads one to wonder who's left at WebMD. Is there an engineer in the house?

    But perhaps the grandest reunion of them all is between Clark and Bark, whose Barksdale Group is putting up money for the new venture.

    Lest you think we've forgotten about Marc, the third leg of that old Netscape stool, here's a gloomy item about the Andreessen-funded Octopus.com: Rumor has it the start-up, whose fully Greek name means "eight feet," failed to secure its latest round of funding and thus finds itself one suction-cup short of a tentacle.

    We close with this Top 10 list from our friends in the public relations department of Sun Microsystems, suggesting alternatives to Madonna's "Ray of Light" for the Windows XP launch theme song:

    10. Land of Confusion
    9. The Wall
    8. Watching Me
    7. Loser
    6. Freefallin'
    5. Crash
    4. Can't Get No Satisfaction
    3. Control
    2. Under My Thumb
    1. Like A Prayer