LA QUINTA, Calif. -- Just a little more insight on the waning interest in the

Ariba

(ARBA)

investment

story from the sunny environs of Southern California.

Namely, when the business-to-business software maker presented here at the

Goldman Sachs Investment Symposium

on Monday, there were plenty of open seats.

That's a big change from what's usually been the case with the company at these investing conferences. Last fall, at a

Banc of America

conference in San Francisco, it was standing room only for those who wanted to hear the Ariba story.

Of course, that was before

The Conference Call. You know the one -- the one where Ariba started doing funny things with its numbers and lost the Street's trust. Now it seems to be losing its interest as well.

Now, Ariba's not alone among fading stars; there were also open seats available for the

TheStreet Recommends

VerticalNet

(VERT)

presentation here. Of course, that stock has been going through a transition story, and investors have shied away from it for a while. There were days, though -- think spring of 2000 -- when VerticalNet could pack them in as well. Not these days. Maybe sometime, but not now.

Now, the companies that are in the Standing Room Only Club include names like

i2 Technologies

(ITWO)

and

PeopleSoft

(PSFT)

.

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Both of those companies created fire hazards with their presentations. Both are in the now white-hot business-software space. That will one day cool as well, but for now, well, just get to their presentations early.

As for Ariba, there's a reason the stock has been notching new 52-week lows. The company, which once defined its industry as the king of B2B, now seems to have lost its crown. Whether it can get it back will depend on its ability to compete with bigger, more established software firms such as the ones mentioned above, and regain its credibility on Wall Street. That won't be an easy task.

You can crunch numbers all you want, but sometimes it's the more subjective data that tell the investing story.