Week ahead, the week that was

High noon for Webvan? Also: Covisint test drives a lemon. Plus: Tug McGraw's refrain gets a repeat airing.

Kozmo bit the dust but is Webvan far behind? Word on the street says the company's board of directors plan to meet next week. With the threat of a delisting from Nasdaq, the suits don't have much room for maneuvering. To be sure, Webvan has enough money in the bank to avoid bankruptcy. If the board wants to tough it out, the company might exit from some of the nine regions it currently serves in a last bid to turn profitable. Then again, management may surprise everyone and just shut down, pay everybody it owes and sail off into the sunset.

Saturday marks the one-year anniversary of the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act. Much good has come out of COPPA but lots of companies still evade this statute, which was designed to protect children's privacy and prevent companies from collecting information about minors without parental consent. The operative phrase here: Business is business.

Amazon.com's five directors have been renominated after doing such a splendid job steering the company to profitability. Um, make that in the direction of profitability. Meanwhile, Gary Lutin, a Wall Streeter who is trying to force the company to be more clear in its financial reporting, plans to host another conference where the heat will presumably again be turned up on the big e-tailer. The question remains whether Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos really gives a darn.

Sun Microsystems will have more to say about Jxta during a Webcast slated for mid-week. To become a hit, this projected peer-to-peer development platform, which was introduced earlier this year, still needs to offer accompanying system-level services--and that's what's likely to be on tap during the festivities.

Bahrain is going to put up $2 million for the rights to host a match between Russian chess ace Vladimir Kramnik and the winner of a number of computers competing against each other in Spain.

After Excite@Home announced it's facing a cash crunch, don't be too surprised if a rate hike is in the offing. The company's cable operator partners set the rates--folks like AT&T broadband and Comcast--and there's nothing cable companies like better than to jack up your monthly bills. Also, with recent rate hikes by DSL suppliers (both SBC and Earthlink pushed through $10 increases), it's only a matter of time before the cable guys follow their lead.

A milestone got passed this week when Dell Computer edged past Compaq Computer to become the world's largest PC maker. For those of you who are long in the tooth and can remember back to the old days of mail order when Dell was just one outfit among many struggling to make a mark--remember Northgate and Zeos--this is no minor achievement.

I must confess that I'm of two minds about this ruckus over whether a company has the right to broadcast the execution of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh. On the one hand, I'm sympathetic to the free speech argument, that the company should have a constitutional right to convey information. But in this case, let's get real. First off, this is being pursued not out of some higher constitutional scruple but for the almighty dollar: Entertainment Network--as well as Liveontheweb.com, another company seeking to broadcast the execution over the Internet--want to charge money. More importantly, we're now entering the realm of the ghoulish. What's next: Human sacrifice at five bucks a peek?

Hot off the transom: Gartner finds that workers spend an average of an hour each day managing their e-mails--and that most of the messages are junk. Whoa, here's a surprise!

Either the folks at Covisint are crazy like foxes or just plain crazy. After a long search, the online parts mall for the auto industry hired Kevin English to be its CEO. Published reports suggest that Covisint first offered the job to three other people, though the suits representing the automakers participating in this most high-profile business-to-business exchange lavished extensive praise on their pick. English's previous claim to fame was the role he played taking TheStreet.com public. Considering TheStreet.com's ongoing struggle to make a profit, that may go down as one of English's more modest achievements.

Dan Bricklin did a mitzvah by rescuing Pyra Labs with a licensing deal that keeps the blogging software start-up in business. The Web logging craze would have continued apace regardless, but Bricklin, chief executive officer of Trellix (and co-inventor of the electronic spreadsheet for all you history buffs) makes sure that at least one interesting albeit underfunded young company doesn't go belly up.

Is the big tech slowdown finally slowing down? After all the disappointments of the last year, who's willing to stick their neck out and say the worst is really over? But with somewhat better-than-expected results posted by several technology companies--including IBM and Microsoft--and more confident projections about the next six months, the dead-end pessimism that formerly prevailed has now given way to something else. What it is I'm not yet sure. But I do remember the (then) famous refrain of former New York Met reliever Tug McGraw during the 1973 season: Ya gotta believe. Maybe it's something like that.

TiVo finally 'fessed up to a software glitch which induced some of its set-top boxes to reboot repeatedly. No truth to the rumor that the problem would surface whenever Bill Gates appeared on screen.

When they complete the history of our dot-com times, chroniclers ought to reserve a separate chapter for MicroStrategy's bizarre declaration of war against short sellers. Management blames the shorts for the plunge in the company's stock, and is urging shareholders to rally around the flag. I suppose the fact that the e-business software maker has never turned a profit played no part in the demise of its once high-flying stock price.

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