Montgomery Tech Week: 3Dfx Adds Depth to E-Commerce

The chip maker sees a role for 3-D in online commerce. Also, EMC on growth targets and a stampede for Monster.com T-shirts.
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SAN FRANCISCO -- Video-game-chip maker 3Dfx Interactive (TDFX) wants to be in e-commerce. We're not talking about setting up an auction site or turning its home page into a portal. 3Dfx CEO Greg Ballard figures if people are going to buy cars online, why look at a two-dimensional picture when you can open up the door of a 3-D car and take a look inside?

Ever since the company went public in June 1997, it has developed an intense following of hard-core gamers, but it has failed to attract the same devotion from institutional investors, who fear that competitors such as

ATI Technologies

(ATYTF)

,

S3

(SIII)

and

Nvidia

(NVDA) - Get Report

will develop a chip that can push 3Dfx off its leadership post.

Fund managers have also worried that the video-game market limits the growth of these companies, but to Ballard, that type of thinking is shortsighted. He points out that 3-D graphics on the Internet are creating a graphics-chip explosion -- about 25 million graphics chips will be sold this year and some 42 million in 2000, he said.

Ballard likens 3Dfx to

Intuit

(INTU) - Get Report

, whose Quicken software convinced the world to manage its personal finances on PCs. There's no reason to do anything in two dimensions when it could be done in three, Ballard said at the

NationsBanc Montgomery Tech Week

conference.

The 3Dfx CEO wants to move the company beyond games to educational software and e-commerce. And he might have something there, if people take to the 3-D images when shopping online. In 3-D, a

Mercedes-Benz

is one thing,

Stephanie Seymour

quite another.

--

Marcy Burstiner

EMC's New England View

Shares of

EMC

(EMC)

have been on a

Cisco

-like

(CSCO) - Get Report

tear, up more than 400% these past two years. So you can forgive CEO Michael Ruettgers if he didn't break any big news in his presentation at the Montgomery conference

(Of course, that didn't prevent some wire services from rushing out of the room midpresentation to call their desk with headlines. Surely they were of the "EXTRA: EMC Chief Says Sun May Rise in East" variety.)

Central to Ruettgers' presentation was EMC's long-stated goal to achieve $10 billion in revenue by 2001. He talked about achieving 36% annual revenue growth and a 35% share of the $35 billion data-storage market. But close followers of EMC know that the company already

has

a 35% market share. So what gives?

"The benefit in coming from New England," said Ruettgers, "is that you tend to be conservative." And then he gave what can only be described as a forward-looking grin.

For good measure, Ruettgers told the crowd that the onslaught of information technology is sure to develop in the next few years. "For our customers," said Ruettgers, "it's as if they're standing in 12 inches of water and they look out and see a 12-foot wave coming at them. It's a huge problem for our customers to store and manage this data."

--

Joe Bousquin and Cory Johnson

Shouting "Monster" in a Crowded Room

TMP Worldwide

(TMPW)

concentrated its presentation on its job-search Web site,

Monster.com

, at the Montgomery conference. But company COO James Treacy made the mistake of telling the bloodthirsty crowd that there were free Monster.com T-shirts at the back of the room. For the next 10 minutes, money managers, fearing being left without a freebie, rushed the sound booth at the rear of the conference room to grab their shirt.

Some must have also taken the opportunity to head out into the concourse to call their traders to buy up the stock. The stock jumped to 58 1/4 during the presentation, up from 56 3/4 before it started.

--

Suzanne Galante