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Up Front


"I don't think there is a fancy way to say that I have sinned."

--President Clinton at a White House prayer meetingEDITED BY JOAN OLECKReturn to top


IT'S A DOUBLE WHAMMY for Julian Robertson Jr. and his $22 billion hedge-fund group, Tiger Management Corp.: Robertson recently told investors that the funds lost $600 million in August from Russian-denominated debt. But September's news is worse: Tiger lost 12.6%, or about $2 billion, between Aug. 28 and Sept. 8, according to performance figures for the offshore Jaguar fund, which mirrors the performance of all Tiger funds. It was one of the worst short-term declines in hedge fund history, dwarfing even the 9.7%--or $1 billion--George Soros' Quantum fund lost in August.

A Robertson spokesman declined to comment publicly on the reason for the drop. However sources close to the fund blamed a good part of the plunge on a bet on the dollar vs. the yen; the yen has climbed against the dollar in recent weeks. Most of the loss took place in early September.

The Tiger funds are down 9% this month, through Sept. 15. Despite the recent losses, Tiger is up 15.9% this year, after fees. It is now the largest hedge fund group, surpassing Soros' Quantum group.EDITED BY JOAN OLECKReturn to top


COMPAQ COMPUTER MAY HAVE HIT on a way to use the Internet to sell more PCs: Sources say the company is negotiating with Yahoo! and Time-Warner on a possible joint venture involving Compaq's search engine, AltaVista. Compaq acquired AltaVista with Digital Equipment in February.

Sources close to the negotiations say Compaq wants to trade equity in AltaVista for Internet content it could feed to Compaq PC customers. An alternative trade would be broadband services, like the Internet and cable, for PC customers. Compaq's board may be asked to approve a partner in October, sources say. Compaq has already invested $200 million in RoadRunner, Time-Warner's high-speed Internet service.

All three companies declined comment. But Compaq Chief Financial Officer Earl Mason this week told analysts of "negotiations with a couple of different partners" concerning AltaVista. Web researcher RelevantKnowledge calls AltaVista the 10th most-visited site on the Internet. This, plus its powerful Internet search technology, gives it a valuation of roughly $400 million. Sounds big enough to cut a lot of deals.EDITED BY JOAN OLECKReturn to top


FOR ALL THE ADVANCES OF LATE, computers and most high-tech gadgets are as frustrating as ever to use. Donald Norman, an ease-of-use expert who in the mid-1990s helped make Apple Computer's Macintosh line simpler to operate, understands this point. No device, he says, becomes ubiquitous until it's idiot-proof. The computer, now five decades old, is hardly that. Norman calls the computer "a 50-year-old teenager."

Now, Norman wants to spur the maturation process by teaming with Jakob Nielsen, a former Sun Microsystems Distinguished Engineer. Their Nielsen Norman Group will help companies make technology less complex--from "information appliances" that need no booting to improved E-commerce Web sites.

Norman hopes to have more impact than he did at Hewlett-Packard--which he left after just one year. Indeed, his new book, The Invisible Computer, due in October, ends with his view of why big companies are so bad at innovation. "My goal at HP was to bring out products that hide the technology and bring out the benefits," he says. "I'll have bigger impact doing this as a consultant."EDITED BY JOAN OLECKReturn to top

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