SAN FRANCISCO -- Here at the
Hambrecht & Quist Technology Conference
CEO Margaret Whitman couldn't stop talking about the company's announcement Monday that it plans to acquire
Butterfield & Butterfield
But Whitman was mum on the bigger, more nagging issue of competition from
foray into the online-auction business.
Butterfield will help eBay branch out into more upscale items for its person-to-person auctions. "One plus one should equal five with this deal," Whitman said in a moment marked by either grand hyperbole or terrible math.
Other improvements eBay is planning: More local auctions for hard-to-ship items like cars, and ICQ technology that sends bidders an instant message as soon as they've been outbid.
In eBay's first appearance at a major investment conference since Amazon.com launched its auction site, however, Amazon wasn't mentioned in the presentation once -- at least not by eBay executives. "I'm worried that they didn't mention anything about Amazon," said Chris Torressi of the
, which doesn't have a position in eBay.
Maybe eBay hopes that ignoring Amazon will make it go away.
-- Suzanne Galante
isn't presenting at H&Q's conference, fund managers are still talking about the maker of systems-management software.
Edward Hemmelgarn, a fund manager at
, said he's leaving the conference Wednesday, a day before it ends, to go visit BMC Software in Texas. Despite recent weakness in BMC shares, Hemmelgarn said he still likes the company. The stock slid steadily from 60 last September to 30 last week, but it's rebounded to the low 40s in recent days.
Hemmelgarn said that BMC's fundamentals are still on track for long-term growth and that its shares were lumped in unfairly with other enterprise-software companies that reported earnings shortfalls.
But that just gave Hemmelgarn a chance to buy more shares, he said.
-- Medora Lee
BroadVision Touts H-P Alliance
Randall Bolten, CFO of
, took the podium at the H&Q conference to discuss his company's alliance with
, announced Monday.
H-P agreed to commit $35 million to BroadVision and resell its products. Together, the two companies are planning to create a business portal that Bolten believes will be the "next generation of business Web sites."
-- Catherine Haley
H&Q's Next VIP Client?
H&Q Chairman Dan Case, undismayed by a 2% slip in the
Nasdaq Composite Index
Tuesday, delivered a thinly veiled sales pitch for his firm's underwriting business during the conference luncheon.
In the year ended April 1, Hambrecht & Quist underwrote 385 IPOs worth a combined $61 billion. Another 161 were in registration. And then there are the possible IPOs, such as
, a Burlington, Mass.-based start-up that handles phone and fax calls for carriers over network space purchased from operators.
In short, VIP, like
and a handful of others, is testing whether Internet telephony can really work. For a long time, the Internet has been too squirrelly to treat voice like data packets and still deliver it in a reliable way. The key attraction is its low cost.
Gordon VanderBrug, VIP's executive vice president, explained that his company dodges congested spots on the network as it routes voice calls. It finds a safe route about 90% of the time; otherwise, VIP simply turns to the conventional voice network. VanderBrug declined to state whether VIP intends to go public, but the company presents Thursday at this conference.
And H&Q likes to showcase potential clients.
-- Kevin Petrie