'Net Buzz

Details are scarce. Ozzie plans a full-scale New York dog-and-pony show for the press on Oct. 24, when he'll introduce Groove's product - also known as groove - and explain how it "leverages peer-to-peer communications technologies to do things previously not possible using the Internet."

Now there's a big claim from a guy who knows better than to make an empty one.

"At the event, you will see how businesses, individuals and developers can use groove - or extend it - to strengthen connections among people and organizations who interact closely with one another," Ozzie promises in his press invite.

You can bet he'll draw a crowd and be sure he won't be enjoying any of those lowered press expectations that helped Gov. Bush skate through that debate the other night.

Ozzie has been politely fending off journalists, including this one, for going on three years now. However, there is a sneak preview about Groove published on the personal Web site of Dan Bricklin, who was a co-creator of VisiCalc and an employer of Ozzie back in the good ol' days. Despite being an inherently friendly observer, Bricklin's account of his recent one-on-one with Ozzie makes for tantalizing, if somewhat unfulfilling, reading. Here are excerpts from www.danbricklin.com:

"Yesterday I finally managed to get an afternoon when I could take up my friend Ray Ozzie's invitation to visit his new company and see what he's been working on for the last few years.

"Ray's company, Groove Networks (Inc.), has been in 'stealth' mode for quite a while. . . . I spent over four hours talking with Ray about a whole host of topics, business and personal. . . . While I can't tell you any details about his new stuff, I think I can say this:

"As usual with systems Ray and the teams he gathers create, this one is technically very deep and innovative. . . . They have a real understanding of the capabilities of the Internet and use them.

"Unlike many other developments for the Internet, right off the bat they address issues that are necessary for business and serious use. Their experience in the real world with Notes shows through."

Ozzie's public relations people won't be able to whet appetites any better than that, and they surely won't bring Bricklin's credibility to bear.

Ozzie's Groove Networks has 150 employees on board, I'm told, even though it hasn't even announced a product, never mind sold one.

Buzz bumped into another stealth outfit two weeks ago at NetWorld+Interop 2000 in Atlanta. Cereva Networks of Marlborough, Mass., also has 150 workers toiling away on an as-yet-announced optical-based storage system. Cereva's show booth was nothing more than a recruitment station with a placard out front listing dozens of other job openings.

Stealth does not mean small.

There's no way to put a happy face on that statistic.

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