More Web Converts

It's official -- the Web's now ingrained in everyone's everyday life.
Publish date:

The Web converts the agnostics daily.

Yesterday I

chatted via



with Launny Steffens, head of

Merrill Lynch's


brokerage force, about online trading, and believe me, there was a lot more agreement than disagreement. It wasn't forced. Mr. Steffens wants to dominate online trading as well as person-to-person brokerage, and I think he can do it. Merrill Lynch, which I am long, could be a fabulous force in online because it has a crisp research product and great flow.

He can't afford not to. In the time since he first got acquainted with the Web, it has gone from being something that was just an oddity to something that is as ingrained in the culture as something that's been here for years. You wouldn't sneer at business done on the telephone if, before Bell, you had only done business by letter. You wouldn't stick with trains if trucks worked better.

Or how about this Mel Karmazin from


(CBS) - Get Report

? Less than a year ago, he told an associate of mine he knew nothing about the Web. He didn't care to. He sure does now. He's all over the Web. He's Mr. Web. Heck, he's worse than

Al Gore


What's happening here? This is what is called


. I would bet that the reason why a lot of execs didn't embrace the Web right out of the box is that they have assistants who do their computer work. The Net is a personal experience; you have to be on it to get it. They probably used their PCs as planters or ashtrays.

I think these guys got on it. They saw what we all saw. Now they want to conquer. Who can blame them?

James J. Cramer is manager of a hedge fund and co-founder of At time of publication, his fund was long Merrill Lynch and Yahoo!, although positions can change at any time. Under no circumstances does the information in this column represent a recommendation to buy or sell stocks. Cramer's writings provide insights into the dynamics of money management and are not a solicitation for transactions. While he cannot provide investment advice or recommendations, he invites you to comment on his column at