Any Day Now

If you ever plan to ski down Palm’s
3-month
price chart, you’d better bring a parachute. Despite some dramatic spoilage
since the handheld spin-off’s raucous block party debut, the company is set
to flex some dot-com paper wealth for the first time in its history as a
publicly-traded entity.


Why it took this long is beyond me, since Palm has enough shares to
wallpaper Wall and Main. The upstart announced a sensible land-grab of Web
calendar firm AnyDay.com for about $80 million in cash and stock.


With life whizzing by in Internet time, reminder services and time
management have grown increasingly popular as Webheads struggle to stay on
time, on task, and on target. A notch above traditional Dayplanner
organizers, online calendar solutions such as AnyDay takes advantage of time-saving
technologies aimed at simplifying users’ lives.


Remember birthdays and anniversaries, schedule meetings and appointments
all for free using personalized Web-based calendars and e-mail alerts.
Regardless of where on the planet you are, even if you forget your
handy-dandy organizer, you can still access this info on your own wireless
handheld, laptop, or at the local cybercafe.


AnyDay comes from auspicious beginnings, started a little over a year ago
by relative newcomers Stephen Watts and Dennis Kelly. Now headed by
ex-Lotus and IBM exec John Landry, the company has attracted VC from the
likes of Net zaibatsu SOFTBANK. AnyDay wrapped up its second round of
financing this past December, to the tune of $12.5 million, netting just
over $20 million to date.


The cyber-calendar is already fully synchronized to function on most PDAs,
including competing Microsoft CE-based devices
along with the Handspring Visor, as well as on Microsoft’s Outlook
and Lotus Notes.


The application is proving popular, both for individuals and groups, as
users can share schedules and calendars with others. In addition, AnyDay
could land a windfall of extra eyeballs in light of recent embarrassing
developments with one of its chief rivals, Yahoo! Calendar.


Yahoo! was kind enough to send misdirected e-mail reminders to incorrect
recipients in mid-May. The nature of the sensitive information, such as
doctor appointments and bill payment due dates, may have some users
concerned over their privacy. Yahoo! claimed that only one tenth of a
percent of its users were affected, but the fallout remains to be seen.


Palm makes a smart move here to bundle AnyDay’s existing mobile services
with its own pocket calendar. The handheld device maker better get busy
remaking itself as a one-stop platform instead of a plain vanilla boxmaker.
The competition in this space is going to get too hot to handle, and
investors won’t be in the mood to hand out premiums to hardware manufacturers.


The price tag on this deal looks about fair market value, when factoring in
inflation, and docking the asking price for a bevy of me-too competitors.
E-tailing giant Amazon.com scooped up PlanetAll for $100
million two years back, while When.com
and Jump.com both found dance partners
last year in America Online and Microsoft,
respectively.


Any questions or comments, love letters or hate mail? As always, feel free
to forward them to [email protected].

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