Net Prophet: Ask Mr. Magic Eightball

SAN MATEO (04/03/2000) - [Editor's Note: It is our pleasure to welcome a guest columnist, noted Internet consultant Mr. Magic Eightball. Anyone who makes Internet strategy decisions is intimately familiar with Mr. Eightball's work.

He has taken time out of his tour to promote his latest book, Winning Through Obfuscation, to answer some reader questions from readers.]From j-bezos@amazon.comMr. Eightball, I've gotten myself into some money trouble. I actually looked at what I am spending each month and how much I am making -- holy moly! Any suggestions for pinching a few pennies?

Magic Eightball responds: "Don't count on it."

From kevin-oconnor@DoubleClick.com

I'm thinking about a new business model for my company. What do you think of the "track-all-the-Web-sites-you-visit-and-threaten-to-tell-your-spouse-about-it-unless-you-cough-up-some-dough" strategy?

Magic Eightball responds: "You may rely on it."

From stratton@VeriSign.com

What was I thinking when I paid $21 billion for Network Solutions?

Maybe when we get some new top-level domains I can register all the trademarked names of companies and sell them to McDonald's and Ford for a couple million a pop?

Magic Eightball responds: "You may rely on it."

From larry-e@oracle.com

I can't shake the feeling that people aren't listening to me. I tell them my ideas about networks and computers, but nobody pays much attention. Is it me?

Am I coming on as too overbearing and abrasive?

Magic Eightball responds: "Without a doubt."

From steve_jobs@apple.com

My last big idea -- fruit-colored plastic -- went over really well.

But you know people -- they always want something different. I need a big idea.

What do think of racing stripes and tail fins?

Magic Eightball responds: "Very doubtful."

From dukker@eMachines.com

Our IPO was disappointing, and I'm a bit down. Can you think of a reason why investors wouldn't get excited about a company built on rice-paper-thin margins competing against some of the biggest companies on the planet?

Magic Eightball responds: "Better not tell you now."

From jason-olim@cdnow

You probably read that recent Barron's article -- the one where they mention we've got enough cash on hand to stay in business another fifteen or twenty minutes? So, Magic, my question to you is: Got any spare change? A buck or two?

Anything in your pocket? Something under sofa cushions, maybe?

Magic Eightball responds: "Outlook not so good."

From billg@microsoft.com

Magic, old buddy, I've gotten myself into a little trouble with the law recently. It's a long story -- you may have heard a little about it -- but it's not funny anymore. Now they're actually talking about taking away my company and messing with my livelihood. What am I supposed to live off of -- my savings? Isn't there something I can do to get the government off my back?

Magic Eightball responds: "Leak confidential information to the press and make a big noise about your half-hearted overtures at reconciliation so, when the hammer falls, you can complain loudly about how 'well, we tried to be reasonable' ... "Send your tough Net strategy questions -- whether it's April 1 or not -- to sean_dugan@infoworld.com. He'll be sure to forward them to Mr. Magic Eightball for an insightful answer.

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