Web Developers Say ‘Show Me The Money’

During the dot-com run up in the late 1990s, Silicon Valley firms were famous for offering equity in startups in order to lure developers, executives and other staff.

Since the bubble burst, cold hard cash and other benefits have proven to be more desirable than equity in many cases. One startup searching for a senior Web developer and chief architect confirmed the trend when several would-be candidates turned down offers of a 15 percent equity stake.

At the recent Web 2.0 Expo, I met the founder of a Web startup still operating in stealth mode. “Gary” told me the consumer-oriented Web site he’s spent the past two years developing has the potential to “reach tens of millions of adults, reduce misery and suffering and generate lots of money.” He said early testers have given the site rave reviews.

Having given up on the Bay Area in his search, Gary then looked to the Midwest in hopes of convincing a qualified candidate to move to California with an offer of a free living space and fifteen percent equity.

But things move fast in Silicon Valley and, in this case, for the better. Gary said he just hired a CEO/investor and now has funds to offer both equity and a decent salary to would be applicants.

Deep Dives Into Discounts

Sun Microsystems is putting a business/marketing spin on its 25th anniversary celebration, which started April 23rd. Through May 7, Sun is offering discounts of up to 65 percent on a range of server and storage products if they’re purchased online.

“Twenty-five years ago we were a startup and we remember how hard that can be,” Marsha Cavanagh, Sun’s vice president of lifecycle marketing, told internetnews.com.

Which is not to say Sun’s aggressive pricing is an altruistic giveaway. Cavanagh said none of the discounted items are loss leaders, just aggressively priced. “This is not a sales blow out, these are leading edge products,” she said.

Examples of sales items available in limited quantities include: Sun StorageTek 5320 NAS Appliance, starting at $15,630 (normally $44,814); Sun Fire X4500 server at $24,000 (normally $47,995); and the Sun Fire T2000 server, starting at $5,040 (normally $9,995).

Sun’s always appealed to developers and it had very strong sales before the dotcom bust,” IDC analyst Jean Bozman told internetnews.com. “Now with more of these Web 2.0 startups appearing, this is a smart move because some of them will grow large and adopt Sun technology.”

eBay, oBay, Oy Vey

Earlier this month I reported on a service called TypoSquasher, an on-demand or Software as a Service (SaaS) system from CitizenHawk that crawls the Web to search for possible misspellings of domain names, identifies instances of “typosquatting” that infringe on trademarks, and sends notices of fraudulent activity to domain owners.

One of Citizenhawk’s reference clients I interviewed for the story was online auctioneer Overstock.com, which said it’s used the system to identify numerous instances of so-called cybersquatting. However, an alert internetnews.com reader (thanks Floyd), pointed me to a report last year that Overstock opened itself up to charges of cybersquatting for having registered the name obay.com. That name is, of course, just one letter off from its biggest competitor, online auction giant eBay . Overstock currently redirects “oBay” visitors to the Overstock auction page.

Overstock registered OBAY.COM in September 2004, two days after it launched the auction site.

An Overstock spokesman said no legal action has taken place or is pending regarding the registration of Obay.com. Overstock.com also does not have any plans to market or promote the Web address Obay.com.

“In addition, Overstock.com believes that trademark infringement is a serious issue that should be dealt with in accordance with direct violations,” a spokesman said said via e-mail. “Like our tagline states, ‘It’s All About the O.'”

A spokesman for eBay said “I can confirm that eBay has had some dialogue with Overstock regarding the URL, but there is no update on the matter at this time.”

David Needle is West Coast Bureau Chief for internetnews.com

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