RealTime IT News

The Internet Stock Craze Will Never End -- Ever

I've been crunching some numbers lately, precisely factoring in the current Internet IPO registration rate with some vague assertions and unfounded generalizations, and have reached this startling conclusion: By the year 2003, not only will every person in America hold stock in an Internet company, each person will be an Internet IPO.

The Internet and the Internet economy are taking us to some place we've never been before. We all know that. It's clear that every last one of us soon will be making our living via cyberspace.

As we each become our own electronic commerce profit centers, why not offer others the chance to invest in us? Is that not the bullish thing to do?

IPO will come to stand for Individual Public Offering. It's really not that far-fetched. David Bowie's already done it. He also has his own ISP. And the British rock star's track record as a pioneer is unparalleled. After his Ziggy Stardust phase, what man didn't dye his hair orange and don glittery, skin-tight green body suits?

Well, some of us did.

As the blinding pace of Internet IPOs continues to accelerate, there will be a "defining event" in which the new technology and resultant stock fever will cross over, merging shares and bids with skin and bone.

Soon all newborns will be issued little NASDAQ ticker symbols instead of Social Security numbers. Highly anticipated births, or spinoffs, will be Webcast in real-time to the trading floors.

We will have no parents, just board members, venture capitalists and underwriters. Doctors will measure our health by P/E ratios (sorry, this is the Internet; make that "projected revenue growth") and bandwidth capacity.

This is where our world is headed, and there is no stopping it.

Unless, of course, the IPO market turns down.

Stuck in the pipeline

It appears that the 'name your price' online auction site is having trouble naming its IPO launch date.

First we heard priceline.com reportedly planned to go public this week. Then underwriter Morgan Stanley said the offering wasn't due to price until March 8. Now we hear that priceline.com won't go out until March 29.

One reason for the delay might be because the company doesn't want to make its Wall Street debut on the same day -- or even in the same week -- as high-profile women's Web site network iVillage. (And if they also happened to be wearing the same outfits...well, let's just say we know two Internet start-ups that would absolutely die of embarrassment.)

Trouble is, priceline.com isn't buying itself much running room. Slated to hit the street the last week in March are Critical Path, Razorfish and Value America, with iXL Enterprises, Litronics and Net Perceptions also possibilities.

Still, there's certainly no iVillage in that bunch, so priceline.com and Morgan Stanley may deserve credit for shrewd positioning.

To investors awaiting an offering, however, this kind of maneuvering for sole possession of the Internet IPO spotlight is annoying.

"I think it's getting like Hollywood," said Bob Silvestri, a trustee at Tiburon Group Pension Plans in California. "The opening is so important they don't want to be up against another 'blockbuster.'"

Maybe, by the end of the month, priceline.com will be ready for its close-up.

Looking ahead

Other than iVillage, there's nothing else scheduled on the Internet IPO front next week, unless GenesisIntermedia.com doesn't make it out today.

For the following week, beginning March 15, FlashNet Communications, Multex.com and Ziff-Davis/ZDNet are slated to price.