SNOWBIRD, Utah -- Here at the Hambrecht & Quist planet.wall.street conference, Bob Davis, CEO of Lycos (LCOS) , greeted a packed crowd of some 250 investors at the Snowbird Cliff Lodge at 7 a.m. MST.
Davis took the podium to try to sell the merger between Lycos and
USA/Home Shopping Network
. His thick Boston accent seemed appropriate for such a wintry clime. Befitting the setting, Davis was wearing a mock turtleneck under his dark suit.
The hydra-headed Lycos/USA/
merger has some Lycos shareholders, including
concerns. Davis' pitch, essentially, was to say that the combination of all disparate entities -- Lycos, Ticketmaster.com, CitySearch, Home Shopping Network and USA Network's
-- makes Lycos whatever kind of company you want. You want content -- we got it. You want auctions -- we got 'em. E-commerce -- step right up. Community -- I'll show
And as if that weren't enough hucksterism. Davis launched into a familiar part of his presentation -- a live satellite hookup with a Home Shopping Network on-air jewelry tout. It was the same
gimmick employed last week at a Lycos press conference. Although sources at Hambrecht & Quist said that USA honcho Barry Diller was scheduled to appear, Diller didn't. Later, Davis told money managers that they would be invited to tour the HSN facility with Diller in St. Petersburg, Fla., on March 18.
While Davis was restricted by the bounds of propriety, "Colleen," a HSN personality, was not and let it fly during the hookup, breathlessly pitching the Home Shopping Network: "We really were excited to be a part of this conference today. Home Shopping network offers the most famous name brands available
in the world,
-- Fuji, JVC, Casio -- the list goes on and on and on."
Davis, however, wasn't done. He boasted that Lycos has four of the top 20 sites on the Net. Among the popular Web sites he boasted of were
, two sites whose place in the Lycos constellation is far from secure. And he said the growth of those properties was faster than any competitor. "Tripod.com grew at 59%, which is double our newest competitor," said Davis.
Davis said that he still expects the merger with USA et al. to close in the second quarter. He also said a board of directors for the newly merged company would be announced in a few weeks.
There were no questions from the audience about Lycos' major shareholder CMGI, and how it will vote for the USA-Lycos deal -- questions that have dogged Davis since the merger was announced. But those will likely come later Monday, when Davis shares a panel with CMGI chairman David Wetherell. In the meantime, is Davis sick of talking about CMGI? "CMGI is a great partner of ours," he says with a laugh. "I'm never sick of CMGI," he says.
Another issue that Davis didn't address was something that
chief George Bell have been spending a lot of time talking about -- the idea that the future of portals depends on reaching Internet surfers with a variety of devices, through a multiple of channels. In fact, at the
Silicon Alley '99
conference in New York last week, Bell waxed enthusiastic about hooking up to the Net at a gas station, at the same machine where you stick in your credit card to pay for self-serve gas.
Asked after his presentation why he was ignoring what AOL and Excite think is so important, Davis gave a so-what look. "That's not a differentiator," he said. "That's something we'll all have."
It's coming, but not anytime soon, Davis added. "Multiple devices is very important to us. I just think the market today is not what that's about."