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"This gives us for the first time a glimpse of the landscape of an entire human chromosome" -- Francis Collins, director of the National Human Genome Research Institute, on the first decoding of a whole chromosomeEdited by Robert McNattReturn to top

A Big Chance for Small Fry

Everyone into the pool. On Dec. 7, meVC.Com opened shop with the aim of allowing individual investors to put their money into venture-capital funds. That will give small investors opportunities previously available only to corporations, institutions, and high net-worth individuals.

Until now, venture-capital funds, which are big backers of Internet startups, have generally been reserved for big players. San Francisco-based meVC wants to give individuals a slice of the action, which can culminate in shares of lucrative initial public offerings. Some mutual funds do devote a small portion of their portfolio to venture funds, but meVC puts 100% of its cash in those funds. Those with at least $50,000 in annual income and $50,000 in assets can invest as little as $5,000 in meVC's new venture fund.

The fund is backed by Draper Fisher Jurv-etson, a Silicon Valley venture-capital firm that has invested in more than 150 high-tech companies such as Hotmail and GoTo.com. meVC says Draper hopes the fund will boost its name recognition. But before you sign up, caveat emptor: The overwhelming majority of Net startups never get to the IPO stage at all.By Heather Green; Edited by Robert McNattReturn to top

Nader: Hi, It's Me Again

For the boardroom set, it's Nightmare on Elm Street, the sequel. First, American business took it on the chin in Seattle as the World Trade Organization talks collapsed in a heap. Now, sources close to consumer crusader Ralph Nader say he may announce a run for President in January under the Green Party banner.

Nader, who sleepwalked through the '96 campaign as the Green's champion, hasn't declared yet. But he says he is ready: "We have so few choices in terms of tweedle-dee, tweedle-dum politics." Even before the coalition of Naderites, unionists, anarchists, and environmental radicals turned Seattle into a tear-gas shrouded battleground, some Greens were urging him to run. The goal: millions of dollars in federal campaign funds.

Nader would then have the means to garner a bigger audience for his message: Multinationals put profits before people. Business leaders, still upset by the battle in Seattle, aren't laughing. Neither is Al Gore. The Veep is on the outs with environmentalists for compromising too much with business. If he faces George W. Bush in 2000, Gore could be hurt by Nader, especially in California.By Lee Walczak and Lorraine Woellert; Edited by Robert McNattReturn to top

Live! From the Stock Exchange

Move over, Las Vegas and Atlantic City. The biggest floor show these days is at the New York Stock Exchange. For three weeks, starting Dec. 15, the Big Board will have a group of celebrities--mostly nonfinancial types--ring the exchange's opening bell. Art Buchwald, Elie Wiesel, Hank Aaron, Walter Cronkite, Reverend Desmond Tutu, playwright Neil Simon, Muhammad Ali, and architect Philip Johnson are among those slated to open trading.

NYSE chairman and CEO Richard Grasso says the idea is a millennial tribute to the achievements of these prominent people. Close followers of the exchange, however, such as Junius Peake, a professor at the University of Northern Colorado, say the hype is a way to underscore the value of the exchange's physical floor at a time of a rapid move to automated, electronic trading venues. The celebrities help promote that value: The bell-ringing ritual on TV is the world's single most widely viewed daily event.

It may seem incongruous to see home-run hitters and Nobel laureates on the exchange floor. But it's a more distinguished bunch than some chosen earlier this year, such as Vanna White, Nickelodeon's Rugrats characters, and a live model Barbie doll.By Marcia Vickers; Edited by Robert McNattReturn to top


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