Bits & Bytes
THE LITTLE GUYS' GUIDE TO HOT IPOs
WALL STREET HAS been positively delirious over any company that's part of the Internet phenomenon. Companies such as Netscape Communications Corp. and Yahoo! Inc. are now trading at phenomenal multiples of their initial public offering (IPO) prices. Problem is, by the time the little guy can buy shares, the stocks are usually trading in the stratosphere. How to get in on the ground floor of the next hot Internet IPO if you're not a well-connected zillionaire or a fund manager? By going right to the Internet itself.
A Securities & Exchange Commission ruling earlier this year cleared the way for direct IPOs via the Net. Now, a startup in Marina del Rey, Calif., plans to launch a Web site to help raise funding for high-risk Net startups that shun the thought of giving up control and large commissions to venture-capital firms and underwriters. Michael Terpin, one of the founders of DirectIPO, says the Web site will also benefit the small investor, providing information about how such securities are regulated and listing investment opportunities. From there, DirectIPO (www.directipo.com) will link investors to the startups' Web sites, where they can retrieve a company prospectus and, if they like what they see, buy shares without going anywhere near Wall Street.EDITED BY AMY CORTESE By Paul EngReturn to top
A MODEM WITH OVERSEAS CONNECTIONS
SENDING AND RECEIVING DATA AND FAXES BY COMPUTER IS taken for granted by road warriors within the U.S. But take your laptop to Europe or Asia, and you'll probably encounter all sorts of incompatibilities--from strange jacks in hotel walls to fax machines that can't receive your fax because they require some peculiar protocol about which your machine has no clue. It's usually even more difficult to send and receive through analog cellular phones, which present their own set of incompatibilities.
So, Apex Data Inc. is coming out with the ClipperCom data/fax modem for IBM PC-compatible laptops. It comes with graphical software that lets travelers indicate which country they're in and then configures the modem's settings accordingly. Able to move data at up to 28,800 bits per second and faxes at half that speed, the modem can adjust to work with more than 50 different cellular phones, too. The unit has been officially certified by phone authorities for use in 32 countries. ClipperCom will be available in July from Apex, a subsidiary of Smart Modular Technologies, a maker of PC cards in Fremont, Calif. List price: $295.EDITED BY AMY CORTESE By John VerityReturn to top
KEEP A BROKER IN YOUR LAPTOP
TIRED OF ALWAYS HAVING TO call your broker when you want to trade a stock? Tired of having to make do with delayed market quotes? Wireless Financial Services Inc. in New York may have the solution for active investors. Its new laptop-based trading service operates by wireless link or the Internet from virtually anywhere in the U.S.
Based on Microsoft Windows, the Universal Trader software maintains a spreadsheet full of data about your portfolio, including the price you paid for each stock. Click on a stock symbol, and the software will retrieve the latest quote or news headlines from PC Quote Inc. within six seconds. You can send, buy, and sell orders at the same speed, too, with the software keeping track of each transaction through completion.
The software is priced at $55. Basic Internet access to unlimited real-time market data is $30 a month. For wireless connections, you'll need a transceiver that can access the RAM Mobile Data network--which is leasable for $40 a month--and pay 4 cents a quote. Brokerage houses offering the service include Jefferies & Co., Jack Carl Futures, Ovest, and On-Site Trading.EDITED BY AMY CORTESE By John VerityReturn to top