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FOOL'S GOLD

Internet bubbles bursting one at a time

By special Tabloid correspondent Dave SmedleyGlamour stocks of the so-called dot-com companies and others with an online bent are at risk of fizzling.

Publicly listed Internet start-ups have less than six months to live, according to one financial advisor.

Unless some of these startups improve their current earning trends, they will be gone in six months, warned Macquarie Investment Management's chief investment officer Greg Matthews.

The money man was offering advice to investors at a roadshow recently and said people interested in Internet startups should have a wide portfolio of Net stocks or suffer the consequences of a bursting Internet bubble.

But he says that the Internet bubble is already bursting, one company at a time. Macquarie Bank is telling its clients to `watch out and be very, very careful' when it comes to Net stocks.

`It is important to look at the capabilities a company has of making money in the future, and how fast they are burning cash at the moment,' Matthews said.

While Matthews said some companies would find a long-term solution to bankruptcy by issuing new, discounted shares, or acquiring a profitable company, he said others were placing themselves under `tremendous pressure' by incurring increasing amounts of debt.

He blamed the market and listing companies for over-priced Net stocks. He said investors were playing the `greater fool' theory in which they purchased overvalued stock in an attempt to on-sell it to someone else willing to pay an even more inflated price. Other companies were simply over-hyped at the pre-IPO stage.

Exclusive Report:

Upsell rage

By Leo Yethonga

In its role as social guardian to the IT channel, Tabloid scans the industry for potential threats to the sanity of us all.

The experience of one Tabloid spy has sparked concern for what is feared will become an outbreak of `upselling rage'.

It appears willful and flagrant use of data mining and customer relationship management tools means every three-days-on-the-job teenager who can scan an SKU can try to sell you crap you don't want.

In the case of one nerve-shattered Tabloid spy, the simple task of replacing a stolen mobile phone sent him into a spin when the enthusiastic sales kid went into the script.

ESK: OK, we can upgrade you.

Tabloid Spy: No, I don't want an upgrade, I want the same model phone.

ESK: That model doesn't exist any more.

TS: (pointing at one in the display case) You mean that one?

ESK: It's not in stock . . .

Our spy was halfway to his car when one materialised, praise be.

The second nerve-frayer was another kid in the car dealer's spare parts department who looked at the monitor, mispronouncing our spy's name and said: `I see your car is due for its next service. Can I schedule an appointment for you?' `No', Tabloid replied. `I'm here in the parts department, not service. I can do that myself, when I'm ready.'

It seems the use of CRM software is going through the stage of many other technologies of the past . . . they do it because they can.

Tabloid's tip is to find an easy scapegoat - McDonald's is to blame.

But on your next visit, check to see how many pimples the crew member has before you place your order. There's a good chance the heavily pimpled ones have spent more time over the chip fryer than `upgrading your order' from behind the front counter.

Shameless grab for publicity #79

The final round of the (insert sponsor's name here) sponsored JJ Giltinan Cup for the most elite salties who race those very conspicuously sponsored 18-foot skiffs was run and won last month on that harbour.

A Computer Associates source fessed up that for the media coverage and the demographics, sponsorship of the event `was a bargain'.

Seems that a little more attention might be required for the CA-sponsored entrant though, seen here looking for directions . . . they went that way boys!

Briefs

Gates, Branson team up on Lottery

Microsoft chairman and CSA (chief software architect) Bill Gates and Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson are joining forces to shoot for a new jackpot - the next licence for the UK's National Lottery.

The two high flyers spoke about the venture in an interview aired recently by the BBC.

If Branson's Virgin Group wins the seven-year licence for the National Lottery, Virgin will establish the non-profit People's Lottery in which Microsoft will serve as technology partner, Branson and Gates said on the Breakfast with Frost television show.

Microsoft would provide the People's Lottery with software, technical support and get the lottery running over the Internet, mobile telephones as well as interactive television, Gates said in the interview.

With the help of new technology streamlining the process and getting more people to gamble, the People's Lottery should raise an additional 2 billion pounds ($5 billion) per year for charity, Branson said in the interview.

When asked if he had qualms about promoting gambling, Gates replied: `If people are going to gamble, shouldn't you make sure that the money that's generated goes to good causes?'

Caching the Mardi Gras

Internet provider AOL Australia announced it has `developed a comprehensive online resource providing everything you need to know about the 2000 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.'

The Mardi Gras area is part of the gay and lesbian area, which is a permanent feature of the lifestyles channel on AOL.

According to an AOL spokes-person, the area generated a huge response last year, and `AOL is all about bringing together like- minded people across a broad range of communities.'

To access the area though, such like-minded people need to subscribe.


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