JimPinto.com - Connections for Growth & Success™
No. 11 : August 7, 2000


  • Humans becoming MediaPeds
  • Bill Gates - Unplugged and Unhinged
  • Napster for Business
  • E-Cars - "subscribe" for a car
  • Invensys takes control of Baan
  • eFeedback on ICS
  • Backup - now or else!

Humans evolving towards "Media-peds"

More and more people are becoming walking conglomerations of various electronic devices on two feet - I know my wife thinks I am. I never travel without my Palm V, its wireless connection, laptop, cell-phone, digital camera, GPS. Why GPS? Hey, it helps me to know where in the world I am, what speed I'm traveling, where I am going and how long it will take to get there.

Prominent futurist Edith Weiner talked about this during a keynote luncheon at the World Future Society's FutureFocus conference in July. People will be constantly connected to the world through mediated devices. These devices will be everywhere - in our palm, the mirror, our clothes, the bedpost. Because we will interact with the world and each other primarily through electronic devices, the distinction between reality and non-reality will blur.

Click You might enjoy a visit to the World Future Society web site

Take a look at Ray Kurzweil's book : "The Age of the Spiritual Machine" where each chapter ends with a discussion between the author (in the present) and "the reader" who keeps jumping ahead by a decade in time.

Click Look at Kurzweil's book

Gates: Unplugged and unhinged

Bill Gates does NOT interview well. To circumvent his defenses, the best bet is either to appeal to his inner geek, or make him mad. And this is exactly what Red Herring magazine editor Jason Pontin did recently. For a full transcript, of this interesting interview, click on this link :

Click Hotlink to Gated Unplugged

Napster in Business

Napster may soon legally be outlawed for music-file sharing. But, the same file-sharing technologies may be good for business. They could be used for software distribution, for document sharing and for helping companies create a sense of community with customers. Read this :

Click TechWeb : The new world of Filesharing in Business


After my BIGTHREEAUTO.COM item in the last JimPinto.com eNews, several people questioned whether the Big-3 could or would ever make cars with a click, like Dell makes computers. And, it turns out that the website www.bigthreeauto.com is an auto-salvage company which delivers "high-quality recycled auto-parts"! (poetic backlash).

But here’s a twist: an Internet startup named MODELE.COM was formed last year, backed by prominent Japanese venture capitalist Softbank which has invested $16 million. ModelE.com will allow customers to order upscale vehicles over the Internet, with customized features, much like consumers can have personal computers tailor-made by Dell. In partnership with ModelE, a fleet management firm owned by Avis will buy already-built cars from major automakers and then contractors will customize the vehicles for clients.

ModelE customers get a 3-day test drive and then agree to "subscribe'' to the vehicle for two to three years. Unlike a traditional leasing arrangement, ModelE subscriptions will include all the car's licensing, insurance and maintenance costs - just about everything but gasoline. The fee includes emergency roadside service and a concierge service that will pick up and deliver cars that need servicing. The convenience offered by ModelE won't come cheap. The company is aiming for affluent, time-pressed households with annual incomes above $100,000. But, if this is successful - who knows?

Hey, go upscale, at least vicariously:

Click Visit the ModelE website

Invensys takes control of Baan

Predictably, Invensys wasted no time in starting the restructuring of Baan. They immediately announced up to 800 layoffs and the exit of at least eight high-level managers.

Click See the latest eWeek Invensys-Baan news coverage

Invensys has three objectives: 1/ break-even within 12 months; 2/ restore customer confidence; and 3/ develop a platform for growth. Break-even means cost cutting, consolidation and elimination of duplication. Restore confidence means demonstrating that Baan is on solid financial ground, showing improved software quality and providing an upgrade path. New growth will require integrating solutions using the software from Wonderware, Foxboro and Baan to create competitive ERP and industrial automation solutions.

eFeedback - ICS (UK)

Regarding my coverage on the ICS "downhill debacle" in eNews dated 1 August 00, Graeme Philp, Managing Director of of MTL responded :
    "Alchemy was not involved when BMW bought Rover from British Aerospace. Alchemy was one of the few "lifeboats" that Rover had after BMW decided to divest. It is however true that Alchemy are bottom feeding venture capitalists and they were certainly not a favourite solution for the Rover workforce. In the end the government backed a buyout by former Rover management and the Alchemy bid failed."
Graeme continued:
    "ICS is not in the best of health (note the British understatement) but I do not think that much of the blame can be laid at the door of the current management team. They were brought in as a "turnaround team" by investors to sort out the mess that the company was in. They have always seemed to me to be trying to do the right things. The problem is, as you say, that the company is drowning in debt and has found it impossible to bootstrap itself out of difficulties. In my opinion, a good parent could still salvage something worthwhile from ICS."

I asked the well-respected CEO of a significant industrial instruments company whether he was interested in acquiring ICS. His reply:

    "It would do nothing for our quality of earnings. Maybe Alchemy can turn lead into gold!"

An ICS stockholder reported:

    "The current state of play is that Altium (Alchemy subsidiary) holds 16.67%, the big institutions 18.44% (incl. Deutsche Asset Management 10.10%) and the directors 6.28%. The small shareholders are being belligerent and will refuse Alchemy's offer; they clearly won't get 90%. As they say it's not over till the fat lady sings...."

Pinto Analysis

    ICS has already been reviewed by all the majors and they have declined involvement. No one likes "bottom-feeding vultures" (mixed metaphor purely intentional). The banks are evidently spooked enough to support a low-ball offer and will be delighted to entertain alternatives. ICS has some good people, products and profit potential and I see two possibilities: 1/ A public-company white-knight; or 2/ Leveraged buyout by venture-capital backed management group. This is a good time for an in-house Sir Galahad to take the reins....

To join the bulletin board where ICS shareholders e-congregate and e-commiserate, click on :

Click Interactive Investors International

Backup - NOW or else!

My worry about backing up my 50-gig hard-drive brought a flurry of suggestions. We all have these worries - and you might like to visit a website that points to all the top backup and restore utilities which make data protection a snap. Hey! Download one of these before you need it.

Click Links to Backup & Restore Utilities

You can get a free (yes, free) 25-meg Internet drive to hold some of your important files as a backup. You can access these files with your internet connection at home, or while you're traveling. And, you can have a "public" folder for friends and family to download photos, etc. A simply utility puts an Xdrive on your desktop for use just like any other drive. This took me about 3 minutes to configure and connect - nice! Connect your xdrive at:

Click Get your own Xdrive

eSpeak to me!

Thank you (whopping 80% response) for your eNews feedback! You'll see the changes that YOU have suggested: short, sweet and mostly once a week; lots of useful hotlinks; analysis & commentary (not gossip).

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If you have comments or suggestions for Growth & Success News, please contact me directly at : Click Jim@JimPinto.com

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