"We uphold the District Court's finding of monopoly power in its entirety." -- Court of Appeals ruling on Microsoft The cost-cutting just keeps getting deeper at Lucent Technologies (LU). Following the June failure of talks about an Alcatel (ALA) merger, which would have provided fresh cash to the limping telecom-gear maker, Lucent announced 10,000 more layoffs--for a total of 30,000 employees.
For the survivors, life at the company will be getting tougher. Lucent managers have dimmed the lights-- and in one case they went so far as to remove lightbulbs to cut down on energy costs. In addition to cutting back travel, Lucent has taken cell phones away from some of its sales force, and--in a move to consolidate office space--has asked some people to work from laptops from home. "It's tough times, but things are getting crazy," says a Lucent sales rep who used to travel extensively.
Lucent confirms that some lights have been dimmed or removed. "We're looking at every cost, every expense that doesn't impact customer service, and lighting is one," says a Lucent spokeswoman. Meantime, Lucent employees are just hoping there's light on the horizon. George W. Bush talked a lot about family values during his campaign. Since becoming President, he has shown how much he values families: The White House is now Family Affair.
Thought it was just a Bush father-son thing? Historians say there have never been so many family combos in an Administration at the same time. There's Vice-President Dick Cheney's son-in-law Phil Perry, who's a Deputy Attorney General. There's Secretary of State Colin Powell and his son Michael, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission.
Then there are the siblings. Among them: White House budget director Mitch Daniels and his sister Deborah, an Assistant Attorney General; Deputy Press Secretary Scott McClellan and his brother, Mark, of the President's Council of Economic Advisers; and White House Political Director Ken Mehlman and his brother Bruce, an Assistant Commerce Secretary.
Not since the days of Jack and Bobby Kennedy and Allen and John Foster Dulles has a Presidency seen relatives in such high places. Jokes McClellan: "Mark and I kid about getting our other two brothers in here." Be careful what you wish for. After years of lobbying, the U.S. steel industry finally got the White House to conduct a review of the steel market, which could result in a curb on cheap imports or even a ban. But guess who's one of the biggest buyers of foreign steel? Steelmakers themselves.
In the first five months of 2001, U.S. mills--including U.S. Steel, Bethlehem (BS) and LTV (LTVCQ)--imported 2.3 million tons of steel slabs, which they reheated and rolled into sheet. That's 20% of all the steel imported to the U.S. through May. The steel companies want continued free access to cheap raw-steel imports but a block on the finished steel foreign companies make. They concede they could end up choking off imports they use.
Critics say U.S. producers can't have it both ways. "They're pure hypocrites," fumes David Phelps, president of the American Institute for International Steel, which represents foreign producers.
The government's International Trade Commission will hear from all sides during two weeks of hearings in September and then advise President Bush on what to do by next spring. Big Steel could have some explaining to do. Many companies are plagued by urban legends, scams, and hoaxes delivered by e-mail. Such messages usually promise goodies if the e-mail is forwarded. Here are a few examples:
Bill Gates is offering $1,000 to those who forward his e-mail message.
OUTCOME: Hoax preys on worries that Microsoft is collecting e-mail addresses for its databases. But E-mail tracking doesn't exist.
Nigerian officials will reward you if you allow them to transfer "trapped funds" into your account.
OUTCOME: In 1997, Americans lost $100 million after giving out their account numbers--and that's only what was reported.
Veuve Clicquot will award champagne in return for e-mail addresses.
OUTCOME: Company responded in June by offering free bubbly and a trip to Paris.
Outback Steakhouse, Victoria's Secret, and others offer free food, gift certificates.
OUTCOME: A dozen companies are targets of chain-letter forwarding scams; they mostly ignore them.
Data: Company reports, snopes.com (named for a family of reprobates in William Faulkner's novels) Swerving in and out of midtown Manhattan traffic in his Land Rover, Kaleil Isaza Tuzman seems like a typical overworked businessman on his way to the office. He's on his cell phone, checking his Palm Pilot, and navigating his way through the city's one-way streets. By the end of July, however, Tuzman will be a national film star.
His fame comes by way of Startup.com, the unflinching documentary hit of the dot-bomb crowd--grossing $1 million, roughly triple other documentaries, since opening on both coasts in May. Moving now into nationwide release, the film chronicles the rise and fall of Tuzman's Silicon Alley dot-com, govWorks. For its chutzpah-driven star, who started a new company to help other failed dot-coms after his own went bankrupt, it's meant a lot of publicity he never counted on.
He's had to hire a personal manager. And he's been promoted as a "film star CEO" speaker at business conferences, where he unabashedly dissects what went wrong at govWorks and cracks jokes about the film. "I could think of better marketing tools," says Tuzman, who nonetheless finds entrepreneurs and venture capitalists rushing to the podium to ask his advice and seek business tie-ups. "It is refreshing to see a guy get up there and manage through adversity," says eCent Technology CEO Christine Adamow, who sought tips from Tuzman.
In the dot-com world, having a failure under the belt clearly amounts to a kind of street cred. "I see my failure experience as positive," says Tuzman. So does the box office. Olives are among the charms of Mediterranean life. But according to a new report, they're provoking ecological disaster in Spain, Italy, Portugal, and Greece. In Spain's Andaluc?a region alone, intensive olive cultivation is destroying up to 80 million tons of topsoil every year, leaving large areas vulnerable to heavy rains. And olive irrigation is causing serious water shortages.
The authors, the World Wildlife Fund and Birdlife International, blame European Union farm subsidies. "EU subsidies for olive farming are driving the Mediterranean environment to ruin," says Elizabeth Guttenstein, WWF's European agriculture policy officer. The EU spends $1.9 billion a year supporting olive farmers; most subsidies are based on how much farmers produce. Environmentalists prefer flat-rate payments per area of land cultivated to reduce incentives to increase production. Don't expect change soon. On June 19, EU agriculture commissioners delayed any reforms until at least 2003. Notice how beverage bottles are getting slimmer, curvier, easier to drink from and grip? It's all due to scientists who, over the past few years, have perfected the ergonomics of the bottle. They videotaped people drinking and made plaster casts of their hands; the scientists found that a gulp averages 6.44 oz. and that half the population would rather suck liquid through a pop-up top than quaff it. So beverage manufacturers have been overhauling their old bottles in favor of sleeker new ones.
Gatorade introduced a bigger, hourglass-shaped bottle nationwide in January and saw sales jump as much as 25% in some areas. "We think of our bottles as sports equipment," says marketing manager Marie Delvin. Dannon, Nestl? (NSRGY), and Snapple have also developed ergo-nomic designs; some have logged double-digit sales increases.
On top of giving a better swig, curvy bottles look cool--important, since Generation Y controls $60 billion in spending power.