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Tech Industry

Memo from Planet Bust

Think you've seen goofy businesses come and go in the last year? So has CNET News.com's Ben Heskett, who shares a top-secret memo from one of them.

    TO: Employees and shareholders of Shrubbery Networks

    FROM: The Office of the Chief Executive

    Our start-up, Shrubbery Networks, was founded in an entrepreneurial spirit. We recognized an opportunity offered by the booming growth in the Internet and private data communications and attempted to provide customers with the best possible solution.

    But as many of you may realize, these are tough times for Shrubbery.

    To review:

    Our lone customer, Godot Communications, has fallen on hard times. I should add that although Godot never actually offered any products or services, hey--neither did we. Godot's management has promised to purchase $1 billion worth of our equipment, and we're still waiting. In the meantime, Godot's investors are starting to get antsy.

    And for that matter, so are ours. There's apparently some discomfort over Godot's plan to pay us for our equipment with Russian rubles.

    Elsewhere, of the 50 telecommunications network-operator customers our sales force targeted, all 50 have gone bankrupt, disconnected their phones or relocated to the Bahamas. There was also that one guy who used all his company's cash to get the company logo onto an XFL football stadium.

    Now back to Shrubbery: We have had some turnover. The executive staff, consisting mostly of youthful, exuberant go-getters who jumped to us from a previous hot networking start-up, have jumped ship to yet another hot networking start-up.

    For those of you who have sent me e-mail wondering how to get in touch with your old friends, they tell me their new company is still in "stealth" mode.

    Regarding our strategy: Our investors seem to think we may want to revisit our technology focus. One proposed that we alter our current "God Box" all-in-one approach. Others just want us to make "something, anything really"--and that's a direct quote. You know those investors. What a wacky bunch.

    Our initial strategy of creating a "buzz" by offering a controlled--in our case, very controlled--demonstration and then selling the company for a few billion dollars may not work, we are finding. We'll keep you posted as alternatives develop.

    Taking charge
    Here are some action items:

    Take the beer out of the snazzy-looking metal casings that have the blinking lights on them and start replacing them with some networking components. We are expecting a shipment of chips and related widgets that should do the trick. Any questions on how to use the technology? Consult your manuals or do a Google search on "networking."

    Start bringing your lunches to work. We will no longer be offering Chilean sea bass in the cafeteria.

    Take down the "splash" intro on our Web site and the accompanying rendition of "For the Love of Money" that is triggered by a hit on our start page. We need to be slightly more humble in these tougher economic times.

    And above all, look busy and use a bunch of that industry jargon. I also want to see lots of charts shaped like a hockey stick out there.

    A reminder: We are not alone. Our rivals are also feeling the pinch. The big telecom equipment companies are suffering from a "lack of visibility" and "100-year flood" conditions. We can take advantage of this bad weather.

    I know this is sobering news, but we are positioned for the next wave. So, not to worry. As a reminder, I will be heading to a Swiss bank with a large black attache case after work today. Keep up the good work!

    Regards,

    The Office of the Chief Executive

    P.S. And please stop talking to the press. Those Pavlovian dogs might hype us too much. It would be bad for business.