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Wearing Two Eyeshades

Everyone wants to be a venture capitalist these days. Since December, at least three high-profile consultancies, including PricewaterhouseCoopers, Electronic Data Systems, and Andersen Consulting, have unveiled plans to get into the VC game. They aim to invest some $3 billion in promising new companies, typically trading their consulting expertise for corporate equity. All those dollars may make them attractive partners, but the relationships can get odd. For one thing, the firms' desire to extract consulting revenues from their proteges puts them at odds with the cash-poor startups. There's also the matter of consultants' style, which is often analytical to the point of being maddening. "Time and again, we saw the consultants blink at the last second," says Chase Franklin, whose company, QPass, is partly owned by Andersen. "They'd decide to do another analysis and add a couple of hundred pages to the specs."

OSHA Ushers Itself Out

It's official. After strong protests from small-business advocates, the Occupational Safety & Health Administration has formally reversed its November decision to hold employers responsible for safety in home offices. The new directive, issued last month, says OSHA will not inspect home offices, where about 21 million people work, nor require employers to do it. An exception: The agency will come in if it gets a complaint of imminent danger, such as in home-based manufacturing concerns. In those cases, OSHA would limit the inspection to the actual work site. "OSHA respects the privacy of the home and has never conducted inspections of home offices," the directive says.

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