SAN FRANCISCO -- A friendlier
gave markets a lift early but bonds failed to respond and blue-chips faded toward the close. Tech averages gained, however, led by resurgent chip and Internet stocks. (For more, see today's
Scoop Alert Update
Tonight, Tom Taulli confirmed last
Friday's scoop that he is going to be named to replace Steve Harmon as
senior Internet analyst. A press release is expected tomorrow. (But why bother with that when you can read all about it here?)
A sticking point in the negotiation had been Taulli's contract with
, "but it looks like everything is going to be worked out," he said. Though a deal has not been finalized, it's likely Edgar Online will continue to publish Taulli's daily work, in some sort of "sharing" agreement with Internet.com (I guess Mom was right -- it's better when you share). Additionally, the analyst may continue to write a newsletter about IPO filings for Edgar, he said.
Meanwhile, Taulli is still pursuing the
options that were summarily yanked from him when he was fired (he says without provocation or warning) upon his return from a Hawaiian vacation last spring. (The drama was widely covered by the financial press, notably by
The firing came just before billionaire investor
Paul Allen announced a major investment in Go2Net -- approved by shareholders in mid-June. Allen's investment upped his stake to 34% of the company and ultimately diluted the number of options outstanding for senior management and other employees.
"If you know you're going to suffer substantial dilution, why not cut down the options?" Taulli mused. "I think that's what happened."
Taulli claims he's owed 68,000 options exercisable at less than $9 a share. Go2Net closed today at 66 3/4 making those options worth about $3.9 million according to my back-of-the-calculator math (give or take commissions and other intangibles).
Not surprisingly, Go2Net has "said they won't negotiate and will not settle," Taulli said. Not surprisingly, he's pursuing the company by any (legal) means necessary.
Meanwhile, Taulli recalled one of the first articles he wrote for
(which is owned by Go2Net) in which he "canned" Internet.com. "Usually I make negative comments about a company and they hire me," he quipped.
In a final bit of irony, Taulli recalls Steve Harmon "helped put Go2Net on the map" with his favorable analysis. "Now I'm taking his spot."
I traded phone calls with Harmon today and hope to provide an update on his plans in the coming days. Earlier this week, he appeared on
representing something called
. A site by the same name invites visitors to "sign up for Steve Harmon's cutting-edge analysis when it goes live!" (Is there such thing as "dead" analysis?)
A source close to the developments said E-Harmon.com intends to be a "focused vehicle for Internet investing" along the lines of
but "100% Internet."
The source, who requested anonymity, said E-Harmon intends to invest in existing publicly traded Internet stocks, as well as serve as a venture capitalist for start-ups.
Associate editor Dan Colarusso gets the first of what I suspect will be many "Specials" with
Truth Serum: Rerouting Takeover Talk Among Networkers. For anyone who's ever invested based on a rumor or even followed in amazement the action from the sidelines, this story (and the column itself) is a must.
Turn on Your Heart Light
Dined last night at
Scala's Bistro courtesy of my fiancee's (sorry gals) cousin, who happens to be heavily involved in power marketing.
After he explained the intricacies of utility deregulation (did I mention the delicious calamari appetizer?) and said we will all someday be able to choose our energy provider (just like long distance!), I asked cousin to get down to brass wire -- what should investors do?
Eventually, he said, a few big outfits will offer the entire range of utilities, including telecommunications as well as gas, electric, and water. Being a fan of those strangely compelling cartoons, I asked about
which boasts a very profitable telecom business.
Yes, Williams is at the forefront but my future in-law was far more enamored with
. If I was
and he was an analyst, I would say cousin was "pounding the table" on Enron. But I'm not and he isn't. Interestingly, he's also NOT employed by Enron but by a rival who I won't name to protect his job (he's family, after all, and I'm hoping for a nice wedding gift).
Enron rose a fraction today but the stock has been anything but a boring utility. The shares have climbed steadily since the market's lows of last September and roughly doubled in that time span. A 2-for-1 stock split is scheduled to take effect Aug. 13. (Entry point, anyone?)
Cousin also recommended would-be investors search for regional power companies, believing their days as independents are few. (I never got to ask for specifics because the main course was being served and "the missis" was giving me those
"stop talking about business"
glances, effectively supported by a few
"stop this now"
kicks under the table.)
Ain't love grand?
Turns out I wasn't the only one peeved by
decision to not broadcast the Q&A portion of its conference call
Several readers emailed their disgruntlement, with
of Marco Island, Fla. best embodying the outrage: "I was appalled by eBay's call
Monday night and after yelling and screaming ... at that very moment
that night entering a market order to sell a long-held position, I swore I would never own that stock again! Community indeed! The intangibles, the glue solidifying the valuation model, the 'story' Meg is so fond of collapsed at that moment for me."
Methinks he's not alone. (For even more on the eBay conference-call saga, check out
Aaron L. Task writes daily for TheStreet.com. In keeping with TSC's editorial policy, he doesn't own or short individual stocks, although he owns stock in TheStreet.com. He also doesn't invest in hedge funds or other private investment partnerships. He welcomes your feedback at
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