Briefs: Gerstner Tosses Cold Water

IBM Corp. CEO Louis Gerstner last week let Wall Street know he thinks there is "irrational exuberance" surrounding e-marketplaces. In an address to investors and financial analysts, the tough-talking boss of Big Blue said that although e-marketplaces would be important, people shouldn't confuse them with business-to-business commerce.

"There is a big difference between making a sexy announcement and exploiting the 'Net to drive real cost out of your supply chain," he said. Gerstner defended a weak first quarter for IBM, reportedly saying investors could expect high single-digit revenue growth for IBM as opposed to the double-digit growth seen in early 1999. Investors responded by driving IBM stock down about five points late last week.

Antivirus vendors bury the hatchet

Network Associates Inc. and Trend Micro Inc. last week decided to settle their antivirus patent-technology dispute, a battle that had taken them into U.S.

District Court in San Jose the week before. Trend Micro holds a patent covering computer-virus detection on an intermediate server, such as a gateway or firewall, and wanted competitor Network Associates to recognize the validity of the patent. Network Associates, which makes antivirus server products, had been fighting Trend Micro's patent-infringement claim for more than a year. Once the two sides landed in court, they abruptly decided to end the dispute by cross-licensing patented technology to each other. A year ago, Trend Micro ended its lawsuit against Symantec Corp. in a similar manner.

Qwest sues over worker defections

Qwest Communications International Inc. has sued an emerging provider of secure IP remote-access services over a recent wholesale defection of employees from Qwest's Southeast regional sales headquarters. The suit alleges that an Alpharetta, Georgia, service provider called Intelispan Inc. illegally solicited and hired 17 of Qwest's sales executives and associated personnel.

Intelispan officials confirm that all 17 people left Qwest en masse on April 17 to go to Intelispan, but dismiss the suit as "without merit." Qwest charges that the employees in question had contracts, and the defection breached their fiduciary responsibility and potentially violates agreed-upon noncompete clauses. Four of the 17 are named as co-defendants along with Intelispan.

Regardless of the outcome of the lawsuit, the defection in the Southeast region is a blow for Qwest, which has struggled with employee turnover.

CEO resigns at struggling Xerox

In a surprise move, Rick Thoman, CEO and president of troubled office equipment and software vendor Xerox Corp., last week announced his resignation from the company. Xerox Chairman Paul Allaire, who was Thoman's predecessor in the CEO role, will now act as interim CEO. In addition, Anne Mulcahy was promoted to Xerox president and chief operating officer, according to a company statement.

Mulcahy also has been nominated for election to Xerox's board, taking Thoman's place there. She is currently president of the vendor's general markets division. In a letter to Xerox employees, Thoman said he thought the company was beginning to rebound from the financial troubles that have plagued it in recent years. Thoman announced in December 1999 that the company would cut 5,200 jobs, or 5.5% of its total workforce. In a statement issued by Xerox, Allaire said he would continue to implement the company's current restructuring strategies.

Ironside, Commerce One collaborating

Ironside Technologies Inc. and Commerce One Inc. last week reached an agreement to integrate the Ironworks business-to-business server software with Commerce One's MarketSite and Global Trading Web products. The integration effort involves Ironside supporting Commerce One's XML-based components called the Common Business Library, but no deadline on achieving that was determined.

Beware the bilingual worm

Last week Computer Associates International Inc. issued a computer-virus advisory regarding the so-called "Win32/SouthPark.Worm," a worm virus that propagates through outgoing e-mail by mailing itself to recipients found in the Microsoft Outlook address book.

It does primarily the same thing as the recent "ILOVEYOU" worm, but with no limit on the number of addresses it exploits.

The Win32/South Park.Worm contains messages in German, such as "Servus Alter" (translation: "Hey, Dude!") and "Hier ist das Spiel, das du unbedingt wolltest!" ("Here is the game you desperately wanted!").

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