E-Mailbag Monday: Handspring, Mediaplex, Stealth Mode

What looks good for the IPO market this week?

Reply : Take a look at Handspring. The company sells handheld
devices. In fact, the company has a great advantage. Its founders, Jeff
Hawkins and Donna Dubinsky, were the developers of the Palm technology.

Handspring’s main product is called Visor. It is very similar to
the Palm (Visor uses the Palm operating system), but there are key
differences. For example, there is an expansion slot, called the
Springboard, that allows for added features such as an MP3 player, digital
camera and so on.

Sales in the past quarter were $34 million, which compares to $16 million in
the previous quarter. But losses during the past six months were $41

The company has serious backers, including Kleiner Perkins and Benchmark
Capital. John Doerr, the star VC at Kleiner Perkins, is on the board of

The lead underwriter is CS First Boston and the proposed ticker symbol is

Mediaplex: Now On Your Cell Phone

What do you think of Mediaplex?

Reply: I’m a big fan of the company. Actually, I had an opportunity
to interview the CEO last Friday. Mediaplex has recently
had a lock-up expire, so there has been pressure on the stock price. But
this is an opportunity.

The company has a technology called MOJO (mobile Java objects). It is the
only technology that allows online advertising messages to be changed in
real-time based on internal data of the advertiser (such as inventory,
customer information, and pricing). Clients include macys.com,
OfficeMax.com and many others.

In fact, MOJO has proved to be highly versatile. A week ago, Mediaplex
hosted a live eBay auction using MOJO. It was able to deliver the
information real-time over cell phones. Known as the “click-to-call”
function, a person is able to respond to a promotional ad using a cell

Stealth Mode: Timing is Everything

What does stealth-mode mean?

Reply: In the past year, many start-ups have used a stealth-mode
strategy. That is, they will obtain funding, hire key people and develop
technology. When the technology is far along, the company will announce its
intentions. The reason for this is to not alert potential competitors to
the new marketplace.

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