SAN FRANCISCO -- Some days are better than others.
throbbed with the communal anxiety of several hundred investors. They were looking to the
Banc of America Securities Technology Conference
to give them equilibrium -- and some needed face time with the high-tech cowpokes currently riding the
nauseating gyrations like champion rodeo riders.
packed the room.
wooed an overflow crowd.
kept 'em drooling. Even
PC group chief Duane Zitzner had his moment to bask in the warmth of a capacity captive audience at 7:30 a.m.: "HP's down 2 1/2 and I haven't even spoken yet. I'm sure Carly will remind me of that when I get back home. Carly's my boss, as you might know." Rousing laughter ensued. Zitzner 1, Bulls 0.
founder, Bobby Lent, managed to boldly compare the growth of the plucky B2B e-commerce sector to the U.S.' thunderous
growth, implying that e-commerce was doing more than its share to generate the economy's growth.
This is what investment banking conferences are about: 500 happy handshakes and a warm Ritz-Carlton terry-cloth hand towel to wipe those mitts clean after the day is done.
Sometimes, however, the story just passes you buy. As the suits throng to the heat, you're left with 30 minutes of passionless PowerPoint in a cold room. You find yourself alone, with no one to soothe your ego but the guy who makes sure you don't pour a container of thumbtacks into the expensive video projector.
was having that kind of a day.
The online network of interest groups went up against e-commerce powerhouse Commerce One -- one of about five stocks that actually got terminally blase investors to stop and gawk in the most recent three-month tech stock run-up. theglobe.com was a thin content play in a beefy B2B world. Despite a sudden management change last week, in which the two young co-CEOs of the boffo IPO performer stepped down, the heat-seeking investors passed up theglobe.com.
Embattled, theglobe.com came armed to the teeth with both of its exiting co-CEOs, Stephan Paternot and Todd Krizelman, as well as newly minted president and former COO Dean Daniels and CFO Frank Joyce. Bucking the solo-speaker trend of conference presenters, theglobe.com's well-oiled four-man team nearly outnumbered the assembled audience. Stewart Halpern, a new-media and entertainment analyst at Banc of America, insisted that theglobe.com is "a leader in the community area, especially in the games area, which I consider the most fertile area in entertainment."
Paternot stood tall and belted out the revenue numbers -- $18 million in 1999 revenue vs. $5 million the year before. He lamented that the company hadn't seen the "explosive growth" yet from its two newest offerings -- the Globe Clubs and uPublish. But the offerings were both released in the fall of 1999, meaning the financial benefits are still to come.
Krizelman followed up with his own, well-choreographed one-minute speech. The co-CEOs emphasized theglobe.com's continuity in management, with the core team going on a year and a half to two years of cohesion.
Then Daniels took the stage and got down to the nitty gritty: No more Net-company structure! theglobe.com would function as a media company, "designed to respond to its audience." Daniels stressed plans to cultivate a small-business community opportunity, as well as a games-information network and distribution deals for the tools required for uPublish (make your own site) and Globe Clubs advanced discussion groups. He scoffed at a list of "our so-called competitors," deeming
one-dimensional in comparison with theglobe.com.
Finally, with everything perfectly timed, CFO Joyce took over for the home stretch to demonstrate that "revenue growth has been dramatic." Commitments per advertiser doubled from the closing quarter of 1998 to the last quarter of 1999. He finished by insisting that "TGLO currently is significantly undervalued" when looking at its revenue-growth rate vs. competitors.
Big news. Big words. A year and a half after a bank-busting IPO that slapped theglobe.com's name across Wall Street's face -- jumping from 10 to 90 before settling at 63 1/2 at the end of Nov. 13, 1998, trading -- theglobe.com's stock price is a stinging 7-ish. Double that to account for a May 1999 stock split and it's right around 15.
And the lights came on in silence.
Tish Williams' column takes at look at the people who make Silicon Valley tick. In keeping with TSC's editorial policy, she doesn't own or short individual stocks, although she does own stock options in TheStreet.com. She also doesn't invest in hedge funds or other private investment partnerships. She waits breathlessly for your feedback at