21st Log

Brief reports and tidbits from the info-sphere


Janelle Brown
October 6, 1998 11:00PM (UTC)

Yahoo profits -- stock plunges

The more money they lose, the higher their stocks climb -- that's how Wall Street has treated a lot of Internet stocks over the last three years. Now it appears that the inverse is also true: When a Web company actually starts to show some profits, the markets hammer down its stock price.

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That's the conclusion you could draw from Yahoo's week. The premiere site in the market-darling "portal" category reported its quarterly results on Wednesday: $16.7 million in earnings, or 15 cents a share. Analysts had predicted 9 cents a share.

Wow -- a Web company that's making money! Time to sell? Apparently. Yahoo's share price dropped from 114 to 104 on Thursday -- a one-day drop of more than 8 percent.

Of course, Yahoo's plunge took place during a week of staggering technology-stock losses -- the tech-heavy NASDAQ index has lost more than 13 percent of its value in the last five days. Maybe Yahoo stock is just falling as part of the market's herdlike retreat from the high-tech realm. Or maybe Yahoo execs should start figuring out how to get the red ink flowing again.
-- Scott Rosenberg

SALON | Oct. 9, 1998

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Microsoft subpoenas CNet reporter

Reporters, guard your notebooks. With its antitrust trial barely a week away, Microsoft is in the midst of a subpoena frenzy, and it appears that the press is its latest target.

Tuesday morning, Microsoft went after CNet's News.com site, serving a subpoena to reporter Dan Goodin at his home for a Sept. 23 investigative report titled "Microsoft's holy war on Java." The story, which portrays a devious Microsoft working to undermine the rise of Java, was heavy with "evidence not yet public" -- including numerous internal Microsoft e-mails.

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Tom Pilla, a Microsoft spokesperson, said that Microsoft is not asking to discover Goodin's sources: "We have simply asked for the confidential Microsoft information that was inappropriately given to the reporter in violation of the courts' protective order." Pilla blamed "Microsoft's competitors" for leaking "confidential documents" in a "selective" manner.

Which leaves us wondering how a reporter is supposed to "return" a leaked e-mail -- hand it over and then erase all trace of it from his hard drive?

Microsoft is currently defending a lawsuit by Sun over its licensing of Java, and the CNet subpoena is a part of that legal action. It comes fast on the heels of a subpoena last week in Microsoft's antitrust battle with the U.S. Justice Department, in which Microsoft demanded the complete notes for the upcoming book "Competing on Internet Time: Lessons from Netscape and Its Battle With Microsoft." Authors Michael Cusumano of MIT and David B. Yoffie of Harvard Business School apparently coaxed Netscape executives into admitting mistakes they'd made over the years; Microsoft wanted to get its hands on the 200 hours of tape-recorded sessions and more than 2,000 pages of interview transcripts and use them as evidence that Netscape's loss of market share was less a result of Microsoft's predatory practices than its own bumbling.
-- Janelle Brown

SALON | Oct. 8, 1998

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Word redivivus

"Long Live Content!" blares the press release that heralds Word's phoenixlike rise from the graveyard of dead pixels. After the flurry of hand-wringing editorials that rang in Word's demise earlier this year, it's no surprise that, with its relaunch today, the veteran webzine is eager to show the world that its kind of content isn't dead -- at least, as long as Zap, the acquisitive Web company that bought Word earlier this year, takes an interest in you.

And, in fact, it appears that Zap has been true to its promise not to mess with Word's unique and often strange content. The revived site has some nice new features: an innovative (though confusing) interface, fresh stories and artwork from the likes of Mary Gaitskill and Karen Kilimnik, and a daily calendar featuring odd animations. But many things are still the Word we knew and loved: the weekly interviews with strange careerists (this week features an exterminator) remain, along with quasi-obscene Shockwave games and pixel-art tools, all with a heavy dose of nudge-nudge pop culture.

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As editor Marisa Bowe explains the new Word in its press release: "We don't want to be smart in the usual, clever, 'I got A's all through school' way of most highbrow mags. We're more for smart people who were on drugs or otherwise dysfunctional when they were in school." Her belief in a viable future for obscurity may bode well for the webzines of the world who use Word as a role model -- but only time will tell how it affects Zap's coffers.


Janelle Brown

Janelle Brown is a contributing writer for Salon.

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