The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on October 30, 1996 · Page 16
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 16

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Salina, Kansas
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Wednesday, October 30, 1996
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Page 16
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C4 WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 30, 1996 TECHNOLOGY THE SALINA JOURNAL The Associated Press Tom Breeden, San Jose, Calif., frames the roof of a house under construction in the Silver Creek Valley Country Club development In San Jose. The Silicon Valley Is undergoing a construction boom with money flowing Into the technology business. Golden Silicon With start-up firms, public offerings, Silicon Valley booms again By CATALINA ORTIZ ' A tneir founders into millionaires overnight „,_ . _.-.-jr, " TV\a hoot Unriwn of tVlPSP has hfiPT By CATALINA ORTIZ The Associated Press SAN JOSE, Calif. — Robert Andrews did well for himself when Netscape Communication Corp. went public and put some of his windfall into a $300,000 weekend house. He plans to spend $40,000 more on improvements, like removing a wall or two to give it an airier, contemporary feel and remodeling the kitchen with granite countertops and bleached oak cabinets. "I would probably be better off holding on to" the stock, said Andrews, a 39-year- old Netscape director and manager of its Web site. "But this house was kind of my pressure release for being in an extremely high-pressure position." With an explosion of start-up companies and public offerings, Silicon Valley's high- tech industry is undergoing a boom that is driving up demand for housing. The result: ballooning apartment rents and home prices — some of the highest in the nation. • "I have never seen it like this," said John Pinto, a San Jose real estate broker for 23 years. "Vacancy means the period from 2 in the afternoon when one guy is moving out and 5 when a new guy moves in." Silicon Valley has boomed before, no- "Vacancy means the period from 2 in the afternoon when one guy is moving out and 5 when a new guy moves in" John Pinto San Jose real estate broker tably in the early 1980s, when the personal computer caught on with businesses. A slump followed later in the decade, and thousands were laid off. The current surge started about 18 months ago, driven in part by the phenomenal rise of the Internet and other technology that promises to make computing easier and indispensable. Silicon Valley's economy is growing at an annual rate of about 5 percent, the fastest of any region in the country except Las Vegas, said Stephen Levy, director of the Center for the Continuing Study of the California Economy. Getting the most attention are the new companies that have gone public, turning their founders into millionaires overnight. The best known of these has been Netscape, maker of the most popular browser for navigating the Internet. But it's not just top executives who are making good money and enjoying it. "Engineers out of college going into Apple and Intel and National are getting 60 grand a year. Product managers are starting at 90 grand," said industry analyst Tim Bajarin. Andrews would not give his salary or say how much he gained from Netscape's stock offering. But his Discovery Bay home could be called modest by Silicon Valley standards. It's not unusual for buyers of Silicon Valley's pricey homes to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars more to remodel them extensively, installing luxurious kitchens with professional-grade appliances and enough granite for a bank lobby. Of course, Silicon Valley is not without problems. In addition to high housing prices, its highways are more congested than those of any other region except Los Angeles. And while Santa Clara County had a 3.7 percent unemployment rate in September, one of the lowest in the state, increasing numbers of workers are temporary employees without pensions or insurance. V AMERICA ONLINE America Online offers a flat rate Largest on-line service tries to keep ahead of smaller competitors By The Associated Press NEW YORK — America Online introduced a flat-rate pricing plan for its on-line computer service Tuesday in its most aggressive response to the growing competitive threat of the Internet and rival online services. The nation's largest on-line service also shook up its corporate structure, creating three separate divisions and naming the chief executive of Century 21 Real Estate to head its core on-line service. America Online stock initially shot up more than 5 percent on the news, but erased the gains amid a broader market retreat. Investors have been waiting for the nation's largest on-line service to forcefully acknowledge the intense threat to its business. The company has previously warned it is having trouble keeping subscribers and that its financial condition could be hurt by growing competition from rivals T MICROSOFT offering unlimited use of the Internet for a single fee. Robert Pittman, the new head of the AOL Networks on-line service division, formerly headed up MTV Networks and is credited with coining the phrase "I want my MTV." At America Online, he said would try to get people to say "I need my AOL." AOL will encourage its customers to browse the Internet using the Microsoft Internet Explorer. Ironically, Microsoft is one of the company's biggest on-line competitors with its own Microsoft Network. The America Online pricing plan matches the Microsoft Network's rate of a flat $19.95 a month for unlimited use. Earlier this month, America Online offered the same rate but for only 20 hours' use, tacking on $2.95 for each additional hour users spent on-line. Other Internet access providers also offer unlimited use for $19.95 a month. Microsoft Network has rapidly grown to 1.6 million subscribers, making it the third-largest on-line service behind America Online with 7 million members, and CompuServe, with 4 million. Microsoft turns 'Net over to its tech guru Company also splits into two product groups during restructuring By Bloomberg Business News REDMOND, Wash. — Microsoft Corp. put technology guru Nathan Myhrvold in charge of the software company's assault on the Internet, part of a restructuring of its management and operations. The company also consolidated its operations into two main product groups, one for its key software business and another for interactive media. Patty Stonesifer, who built Microsoft into an interactive media powerhouse, resigned to become a management consultant. As chief technology officer, Myhrvold's main job will be to direct the $2 billion Microsoft spends each year on research and development. He was a key visionary in spurring Microsoft to shift its efforts toward the Internet. , "This is an attempt to bring the Internet focus across the company," said Marshall Senk, an analyst at Robertson Stephens & Co. in San Francisco. Shares of Redmond-based Microsoft fell 1% to 135 3 /s on trading of 4.2 million shares, more than its three-month daily average of 3.7 million. Myhrvold, who has a doctorate degree in theoretical mathematics, reports directly to Chief Executive Bill Gates and has been key in the development of Internet products. "Nathan is a true visionary who will lead our initiative to build personal computers that see, listen, learn and think," Gates said. T WORLD WIDE WEB Search engines to alter Web surfing KATHY YAKAL Computer Shopper Collecting investment information is example of automated tasks Web-search engines have new competition, and it's likely to change the way you find, retrieve and view information on the Internet. Web agents — also called spiders or crawlers — have been used by site developers and search-engine companies for some time. Several companies have even released consumer versions of these tools, such as Quarterdeck's WebCompass and General Magic's Tabriz AgentWare. But two firms are promising products to take automated Internet searching to new levels. The first, due to ship this month, is WebTamer, developed by the AgentSoft subsidiary of Accent Software International, an Israeli company best known for its multilingual word processor and Netscape plug-ins. Though Web- Tamer's underlying artificial-intelligence technology is complex, the company says, its aim is to make life simple. "We're talking about automation of the Web — programs on your machine that carry out activities automatically that you otherwise would have to do manually," explains Accent's chief scientist, T INGRAM MICRO Jeffrey Rosenschein. WebTamer contains a client-side Java agent that runs locally on the user's machine, as opposed to running on the server. Like its rivals, it can be programmed to perform searches at any time of the day or night. Beyond that, Rosenschein says, WebTamer is really a framework for a suite of productivity tools that can accomplish a number of Internet-related tasks. According to Rosenschein, Web- Tamer can act like a macro recorder, letting users record their own agents. A caching mechanism lets users download pages before visiting a site or use the program as an off-line browser, while a modular design makes it easy to add extra features and third-party agents. AgentSoft says it and other companies will provide task-specific agents to serve distinct purposes, such as collecting investment-related information. WebTamer will be available from the company's on-line site (http://www.accentsoft.com). Its price had not been finalized at press time. Meanwhile, CompassWare Development (http://www.compass- ware.com) is also developing a personal-agent application that the company says should be available in early 1997. Expected to cost $29.99 after a 60-day shareware trial, the product will use Compass- Ware's MagnetFind search engine, which the company says can learn from the user. AN OPEN LETTER Papl Bud Burke Kansas Senate Present 26391 Cedar Niles Circle 01athe,KS 66061 (913) 296-2419 -•.a Sincerely, Computer distributor sticks with IPO By Bloomberg Business News SANTA ANA, Calif. --Ingram Micro Inc. will proceed with its $320 million initial public offering even as shares of some computer retailers and parts suppliers plunged amid concern PC sales will be sluggish. The world's largest computer distributor is slated to proceed with its 20 million-share IPO on Thursday, lead underwriter Morgan Stanley & Co. said. The stock is expected to trade Friday on the New York Stock Exchange. The IPO, filed in July, shouldn't be affected by concern that PC sales in the past few weeks didn't improve from a year earlier. "A seasonal blip in the PC business isn't going to cause people to say Ingram Micro shouldn't be out there trading," said William Smith, president and portfolio manager at Renaissance Capital Corp., Greenwich, Conn. Paul Bud Burke Senate President

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