"In general, I do not believe in spying against one's country" -- Britain's Melita Norwood, 87, a longtime Soviet spyEdited by Robert McNattReturn to top
How Amazon Got on IBM's Bad Side
It only takes one thing for a company not to have Amazon.com publicly list what books its employees are buying through its Web site: A simple request from the company. But at IBM, that request came from the top, and included a pointed e-mail from IBM Chairman Louis Gerstner Jr. on the virtues of Internet privacy. Moreover, IBM employees even considered boycotting Amazon.com.
When Gerstner learned that Amazon.com was publicly listing the buying habits of IBM employees, he was not happy. On Sept. 2, he asked his employees if they were as upset as he was that IBM was one of Amazon.com's "Purchase Circles," which list the top purchases at companies--though not of individuals there. Gerstner also wanted to know if, "as a statement of our firm belief in Internet privacy," employees would boycott Amazon.com.
Within hours, some 5,000 employees answered Gerstner: 95% didn't want to be in Amazon.com's voluntary program. Before Gerstner could tell Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos, someone tipped off Bezos, who then removed IBM from the list. Gerstner later sent Bezos a polite but pointed message about privacy: "I'm certainly not telling you how to run your business, but I do urge you to view this as an enormously important issue."By IRA Sager; Edited by Robert McNattReturn to top
Dennis Hayes: Modem Operandi
He has weathered two corporate bankruptcies and two divorces. So what is modem inventor Dennis Hayes up to now? By day, the 49-year-old Atlanta entrepreneur, whose modems once dominated the industry, advises startups through his Virtual Resources consulting firm. But at night, Hayes indulges a thirst for shock rock at his new Atlanta club, the Whisky Rock, a divey joint that sits on Atlanta's seedy Buford Highway.
In college, Hayes listened to Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix. Now his taste runs to the likes of Marilyn Manson and Rob Zombie. Learning the music biz "has been like drinking out of a firehose. It's been a lot of fun," he says. Hayes hints his club gig may be the first act of a second career. "I'm not sure where it all goes yet," he muses, "but I'm evaluating opportunities to create linkages between my day job and my night job."
In 1997, Hayes held stock worth $135 million in a restructured Hayes Corp. But after a second bankruptcy, he will only say now that he has "enough to live on."By Dean Foust; Edited by Robert McNattReturn to top
AmEx' New Card: How Hip Can It Be?
American Express wants tech-savvy customers for its new Blue credit card, designed for online buyers. But AmEx' hipper-than-thou marketing bid is like hearing your dad use the word "jiggy," and may misfire, warn some advertising pros.
AmEx recently sponsored a Sheryl Crow concert in New York's Central Park. The company also used its Blue Crew of 36 bike-helmeted, backpack-wearing, Spandex-clad street canvassers to give out blue tickets that could win entree to the concert. The Blue Crew arrives soon in other cities with new prizes. Amex says it's all designed to "cut through the clutter of card offers."
Will techies log on to Blue? "The younger consumer gets the feeling they are being played, and that sets off the B.S. detector," says William Heater, of Heater Advertising, who has worked on Reebok and Infiniti accounts. Adds "Jelly" Helm, who headed the creative team for Timberland ads: "I think people see through concerts and gifts. I would drop all of that corny blue backpack stuff and concentrate on the card. I'd let that do more of the work." Maybe AmEx should just act its age.By Roy Furchgott; Edited by Robert McNattReturn to top