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Palm seeded with former Apple executives

If Palm needs someone to thank for its blockbuster IPO, one possible candidate is Apple Computer, the training ground for the majority of the handheld maker's management team and board of directors.

If Palm needs someone to thank for today's blockbuster IPO, one possible candidate is Apple Computer, the training ground for the majority of the handheld maker's management team and board of directors.

Palm's initial public offering skyrocketed up to $160 today before closing at $95.06, on the strength of the industry's current fascination with all things wireless, its unusual status among IPO hopefuls as a profitable company, and to a certain extent, its management team--most of which came from Cupertino, Calif., computer maker Apple.

The most recent Apple alum is Satjiv Chahil, who will take over as chief marketing officer for Palm. Chahil joined Palm this week, according to Palm chief executive Carl Yankowski. Chahil, who was promoted to senior vice president of corporate marketing at Apple in 1996, also oversaw Apple's work in the education fields, according to Yankowski, who asserted that Palm will also target that market.

None of these executives left directly from Apple for Palm, and relations between the companies appear to be quite friendly. The two companies have widely been rumored to be at work on some type of joint device, for example.

In addition to any yet-to-be announced joint device, shades of Apple's influence are already apparent at Palm. Both companies are known for the simplicity and easy-to-use nature of their products, and have built up a loyal core of third party software and hardware makers, as well as customers.

Perhaps coincidentally, Palm even released a device fashioned after Apple's successful iMac computer, the Palm IIIe. Like the iMac, the IIIe came in a translucent case available in a variety of colors.

However, after today, there may be some added competition: based on its current price per share, Palm has a market capitalization of about $53 billion. By comparison, Apple has a market value of $20 billion.

Chahill's appointment has not yet been announced, but he will hardly be the only current Palm exec with the Cupertino computer maker on his resume at Palm.

In addition to the new marketing chief, two of the current board of directors put in stints at Apple, along with the vice president of worldwide sales, the vice president of platform engineering, the vice president of product development, the vice president of marketing, and the director of the Palm.net wireless Internet service, according to the list of key executives in Palm's IPO prospectus filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Palm CEO Yankowski asserted today that Wall Street's enthusiastic reaction was based on the management team. "We have a great team in place," he said. "We're delighted that people have a lot of confidence in the management."

Mike Homer That group includes Mike Homer, current senior vice president at America Online and former executive vice president of sales and marketing at Netscape. Homer, who was director of product marketing at Apple through 1991, sits on the board of directors with David Nagel, who was a senior vice president at Apple until 1999.

Gregory Rhine, Palm's vice president of worldwide sales, served as senior director of value added reseller sales through 1998, while Daniel Keller, Palm's vice president of Platform Engineering, worked on Apple's system software, interface, development systems and Japanese products.

Finally, Byron Connell, who is the current vice president of marketing at Palm, originally was a group manager of customer requirements for Apple, while Robert Harvey was director of mobile computing operations before taking over the Palm.net wireless Internet service as director.