Last week the Windows NT Intranet Solutions show was held in San Francisco. There were some interesting moments but it was no ?Gates-at-Mac World shocker?, that?s for sure, and there was one very predictable part of the event ? Sybase CEO Mitchell Kertzmann?s speech.
Recently, Kertzmann has been speaking at every event on offer and some he probably wasn?t invited to. Weddings, barmitzvahs, Uniforum ? he does them all but, like most other industry executives, he only has one new speech every six months.
Kertzmann is worried that the driving forces behind the NC are more interested in money, power and defeating Microsoft than customer benefits. He warns. He questions. The NC could be a bad thing, he says.
Of course, he says, Sybase will try to work with both the NC and PC camps. He does not commit. The only certainty is that he will pick up his soapbox and move on to the next speaking opportunity. I hope he falls off next time and wakes everyone up.
The slim margins on Hewlett Packard products often prompt its resellers to speak at length ? or, to be more accurate, to shout until they are hoarse ? about how thrifty the manufacturer is. So, here in Silicon Valley, I was amazed that, like Sun Microsystems and Intel, it has gone to extraordinary lengths to provide its staff with fantastic sports and recreation services. Facilities at its Palo Alto headquarters and other local sites include huge, fully equipped gym complexes, jogging trails, basketball courts, aerobics classes, volleyball courts, yoga sessions and racquetball courts.
But beyond keeping staff happy, is there another motive behind these impressive facilities? I know they keep staff on campus and therefore at work longer. I know they are an incentive not to move to one of the other billion technology companies screaming for competent staff. I know it will still charge employees $15 membership every month. But surely the investment required is beyond HP?s inflexible budgets? No. Perhaps there is no ulterior motive and HP has finally splashed out.
Or perhaps not. What HP does not tell you is the results of a study by Pacific Bell, the huge Californian phone utility. Pacific Bell has worked out that exercise and health club facilities make its staff healthier and fitter, and therefore less prone to illness and time off. It built 10 Fit Works facilities and as a result saved $8 million over three years. Good old HP ? there had to be a money-saving motive behind it all.
Silly-con Valley is the land of the 49ers, but the gold prospectors were here before the American Football team. Perhaps, then, it should be no surprise to learn that ?there is gold in them there PCs?. It?s true ? about three per cent of the metal in a typical PC is precious and one per cent is gold.
Circuit boards, connectors and chips all have gold inside them. According to IBM, your desktop probably contains about 0.01 ounces of the stuff. That doesn?t sound much, but a whole ton of ore in a gold mine only contains 0.33 ounces of gold, so PCs are far richer in gold than gold mines. Think about when you told your MIS department to throw out 300 old 386 PCs. There?s three ounces of gold in there, I tell you.
So that?s where Alan Furniss, former general manager of Hewlett Packard?s Northern European business, went. He has got involved with Netfire, the Westcoast and HP office centre franchise business (PC Dealer, 13 August).
That is the tough end of HP?s office products division ? actually selling the stuff and trying to make money in the process. It will be interesting to see what Furniss thinks about life at the sharp end at a distributor.
Datrontech went public in 1995 amid a lot of hype. Like Ideal Hardware, which followed a similar path, Datrontech seemed to have found a great way for it to get the mass to challenge the giants of distribution. But the stock of both companies has soared and fallen on the whim of City investors. Shareholders must feel like they have stakes in Alton Towers, not distributors.
Datrontech and Ideal must be looking enviously at their contemporaries across the Atlantic, where technology companies and their stocks are the darlings of Wall Street. IT firms lead the Nasdaq fluctuations and are often a general guide to the US economy. Established, stable technology businesses make millions by going public and it certainly has not done Ingram Micro any harm. If you had invested just a few dollars in all technology companies 10 years ago, you would have lost on a few, gained on most and gained a lot on some ? by now you would be a worth a fortune.
But at home, whether it?s British pessimism or ignorance about technology, IT companies generally suffer in public. Datrontech is now worth about a third of its value when it floated and it is vulnerable to a takeover bid. Ideal MD James Wickes once told me the flotation was more stressful than having children. Datrontech chairman Steve King must be having kittens himself.
Struggling security titan makes three board appointments after investor took 5.8 per cent stake last month
Commvault ousted its CEO in May and has since undergone a radical refocus
As employees demand more flexible working environments, CRN asks how the channel is adapting to the changing working landscape
Wall Street less than impressed with Oracle's growth as cloud numbers remain hidden