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Nasdaq turbulence doesn’t daunt Internet junkies

Friday, April 7, 2000

Excite News
By Timna Tanners

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – The tech-heavy Nasdaq market’s recent tumbles may have left some investors wary of the Internet’s future, but there was no doubt as to the power of the Web among techies at Spring Internet World this week.

The crowds at the biggest Internet trade show showed a fascination with all things cyber — and in the jeans-and-sneakers-clad crowd, the only outcasts are those who don’t buy the “e”-hype.

One company’s slogan summed up the feverish e-hysteria: “If you’re not excited, you don’t understand.”

“These are wild and exciting times in our industry. You can’t come up with the right adjectives to describe what is happening,” said John Sidgmore, chair of UUNET, the MCI WorldCom Inc. Internet division.

“We’re drawing all the intellectual capital. This is where all the best engineers want to work,” he added.

The enthusiasm is evident not just from the hoards of people, but in the crowds flocking to multi-media “e-solution” presentations taking place around laptop computers, or given by speakers reclining in yellow bean-bags scattered around the convention floor.

The trend of computing to move beyond the personal computer was evident throughout Internet World. Industry leaders painted a picture of sexy new ways of getting access to the Web without a PC — whether through pagers, mobile phones, car dashboards, or personal data assistants, like the Palm series. Developers are even touting Web-glasses, although they are working to lighten their load from a current 8 pounds.

“You might use the Internet for things like checking to see if you closed the garage door while your on the way to work. People may start taking a web break instead of a smoke break,” said John Patrick, International Business Machines Corp. vice-president of Internet technology.

He’s preaching to the converted, of course, talking to a crowd where every other nametag seems to read “CEO” or “Web columnist” and where participants converse about “Web site intelligence solutions,” “turnkey e-commerce,” and use a flurry of acronyms including like “ASP,” “B2C,” “B2B,” “C2C” and “VPN.”

Not a techie or employed at a start-up? You can still take solace in another byproduct of the “Internet revolution,” a more entertaining online experience — with sites offering goodies from voice-activated web-surfing to elaborate private photo albums. Some displayed free online foreign language translation services or the chance to earn money through Internet advertisers and sponsors.

Not all will survive and the stock market’s euphoria may not endure, however, a fact driven home this week with the Nasdaq’s gut-wrenching 349-point drop Monday and news that some “e-tailers” are desperately trying to raise cash.

Amid the cheerleading, there were cautionary comments comments. Internet gurus acknowledged that merely adding “dot-com” to your company name will not suffice to compete in the new e-business environment, and companies will need to cut costs.

“We’re going to see a flight to quality over the next couple of years,” said Sidgmore referring to the growing divide between winners and losers. “Not all dot-coms will survive,” Sidgmore said.