BUSINESSWEEK ONLINE: APRIL 3, 2000 ISSUE

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An Up-and-Dot-Comer for President

If real estate magnate Donald Trump can run for President and a certain business magazine publisher can take two stabs at the White House, why not a New Economy titan? Tech has the buzz and the momentum. What better time to turn that into political clout? Of course, every politician needs a snappy campaign slogan, so we've put a few together for our top picks.

Kevin O'Connor
DoubleClick CEO: Do You Know What's Going On? I Do.

Jay Walker
Priceline Vice Chairman: Name Your Own Taxes

Steve Jobs
Apple Computer CEO: It's About Jobs, Stupid!

Larry Ellison
Oracle CEO: Better Than Bill

Toby Lenk
eToys CEO: I'll Deliver (After Christmas)



Secret Sharers

Online privacy is getting a new kind of airing: In Securities & Exchange Commission filings, dot-coms are taking pages of stock-offering documents to warn that investigations, lawsuits, or legislation on privacy could clobber their investments. Take net.genesis Corp., a maker of Web-customer-profiling software. Its filing carried three different privacy-related warnings. In Be Free Inc.'s stock offering, the manager of online ads lists four different warnings. Privacy used to rate one paragraph. ''No one really knows where it's going, so it's better to have people know it's an issue,'' says Mark H. Burnett, a securities lawyer at Testa, Hurwitz & Thibeault in Boston. The SEC says it didn't force the change. Apparently the feds declined to invade companies' privacy.



Shredder or Spy?

Worried about hackers, viruses, and attacks like those that crippled Yahoo! and eBay last month? Here's something that should make every CEO a little more uneasy. That paper shredder in the corner office may look innocent, but it could be a high-tech spy tool. Strange, but true. A Web site that specializes in gadgets for snooping sold a handful of $5,000 shredders fitted with scanners and wireless transmitters, according to law-enforcement sources. As confidential documents are fed in, they're scanned, and the info is sent to an e-mail address. The FBI won't say boo. Lawmen suspect the nefarious shredder was developed by an Eastern European intelligence outfit. Just the gift for the exec who has everything...the competition wants.



TABLE: Master of Their Domains?

What's in a name? On the Internet, plenty. NameEngine Inc., a New York-based domain-name registration company, checked on whether major U.S. corporations are protecting the online use of their names worldwide. There are 249 different domain designations used in the U.S. and other countries. It's not enough to register Yourcompany.com in the U.S. and forget to register Yourcompany.co.uk in Britain. Oddly, 6 out of the 10 least-vigilant companies are in high tech. Hey guys, it's the WORLD WIDE Web. Here are the 10:

                 Web Addresses      Web Name Taken
                 Company Owns         by Others
                 Worldwide            Worldwide

Company

CBS                 4                   46
Times Mirror        1                   41
KeyCorp             1                   40
Gateway             3                   39
AMP                 8                   39
SCI Systems         1                   36
Merrill Lynch       5                   36
Reynolds Metals     1                   34
SBC Communications  2                   33
Texas Instruments   2                   31
Quantum             3                   31

DATA: NameEngine Inc.



Fools for Options

Indoor miniature golf courses. Free double-nonfat lattes and chefs practically at your cubicle. Everyone knows Internet startups shower perks on employees to keep them working. But only stock options, it seems, can pass the toughest test of all: getting startup workers to have fun.

Case in point: Dash.com, a New York startup that has developed an online personal assistant for Web shoppers, tried to enliven a recent party with a karaoke machine. Even though the free drinks had flowed for a while, not one employee would stand and deliver. So Dash.com CEO Dan Kaufman offered 100 stock options to the first person who sang and 200 to the best singer. ''There was an immediate rush to the machine,'' says Kaufman.

It seems the fact that people work for a Web company is no assurance that they're hip. The first person to grab the mike lit into Bon Jovi's Living on a Prayer. The winning entry was none other than the Bee Gees chestnut How Deep is Your Love. It's almost enough to make you wish for a nice, long Nasdaq slump.



The Allure of Bonds

Financing of young companies has a taken on a surprisingly retro twist. Privately owned startups, such as Loudcloud Inc. and Tunes.com, have turned to debt financing before initial public stock offerings--despite concerns that such small companies can't make big interest payments. Web CEOs are learning that bonds aren't just for Grampa anymore.

The trend has taken off in the past year. In February, 18 information-technology companies raised $6.4 billion selling convertible bonds--up from less than $1 billion in February, 1999. Dot-coms like convertibles because the right to swap the bond for stock can be deferred until the stock price rises--effectively, it's selling stock at tomorrow's prices today. Selling debt lets founders hold on to more stock until the company gains critical mass, says Marc Andreessen, chairman of Loudcloud, which raised $23 million in debt late last year. Letting founders get richer can do an awful lot to make old-fashioned ways of raising cash seem sexy. As entrepreneurs get used to the idea, it's likely to win lots of, ahem, converts.





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STORIES:
An Up-and-Dot-Comer for President

Secret Sharers

Shredder or Spy?

TABLE: Master of Their Domains?

Fools for Options

The Allure of Bonds

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