Back in the pre-Internet days, when technology was looked on as little more than a necessary evil in many companies, the acronym CIO was sometimes jokingly referred to as standing for "Career Is Over." Then, when dot-com mania hit, it morphed into "Career Is Over There" as tech execs parlayed their expertise into high-profile posts at Internet startups. That migration has reversed course over the last couple of years. And last week, two of the most prominent ex-tech execs ended their Internet careers with whimpers rather than bangs. Dennis Jones, who was the CIO of Federal Express while it emerged in the 1990s as the poster child for E-business, said he was retiring as CEO of CommerceOne, a once high-flying Internet software company whose stock price has plummeted in the last several months. Jones left FedEx two years ago, then a few months later popped up as the chief operating officer of CommerceOne, moving into the CEO spot last year. Also retiring last week was Terrell Jones (no relation), the former high-profile CIO of Sabre, the travel industry's technology arm, who's leaving the top spot at Travelocity, the online travel-reservation site he's credited with founding. Like CommerceOne, Travelocity has struggled over the last year, finally being bought out by minority shareholder Sabre. "Terry Jones is truly one of the pioneers of online travel," Sabre chairman and CEO William Hannigan said in a statement. "We thank Terry for his leadership and wish him well in his future endeavors."
Speaking of Internet meltdowns, much has been made of the collapse of the domain-name business. The industry's leader, VeriSign, recently took a stock-price hit when it revealed that a significant percentage of its customers weren't renewing registrations for their domain names. But at least one domain-name registrar claims the reports of the demise of the business are greatly exaggerated. "I really don't see a shrinkage," says Tom D'Alleva, VP of marketing at BulkRegister, a Baltimore registrar that specializes in the business-to-business domain-name market. D'Alleva says April was BulkRegister's best month in the last three quarters in terms of new customers, and that new top-level domains, such as .info and .biz, are doing well. D'Alleva predicts the next big domain will be .name, as individuals register their own names for doing business on the Internet. "Digital identities will become more and more important," D'Alleva predicts.
There's one area of Internet business that's growing (and that may be an understatement). Online gambling, which didn't even begin as an industry until 1995, clocked revenue of about $2.5 billion in 2001, says Jean Noelting, president and CEO of CryptoLogic, an online gaming software and services firm. It's predicted to hit $3 billion to $5 billion by 2003. "From scratch, it's developed extraordinarily rapidly," Noelting says. Two-thirds of that revenue comes from the United States, despite the fact that online gambling is still illegal here. That's why CryptoLogic and other online gambling companies are targeting Europe and Asia as the next growth markets. "Europe and Asia are very undeveloped," he says.
File under Friends In High Places. NuTech Solutions, which develops what it calls "advanced predictive analytics and profit-optimization software," last week said former Polish president and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Lech Walesa had joined its board of directors. NuTech, which claims to have 30 people with doctorates on its staff and such high-profile customers as Bank of America, ChevronTexaco, Ford, Unilever, and the Defense Department, already has on its board former Bank of America chairman and CEO Hugh McColl. NuTech also has high-profile Polish customers. Its CEO, Matthew Michalewicz, who's only 26 and who co-founded the company in 1999 with his father Zbigniew, was born in Poland.
I wish I had friends in high places. The people I know in high places (not many) aren't my friends, and the people I consider my friends generally avoid high places like the plague (or vice versa). If you have any influential contacts, or industry tips, please send to email@example.com or phone 516-562-5326. If you want to talk about the CIO career path, online gambling, or you have any good Polish jokes (just kidding!), meet me at InformationWeek.com's Listening Post: informationweek.com/forum/johnsoat.
To discuss this column with other readers, please visit John Soat's forum on the Listening Post.
The Business of Going DigitalDigital business isn't about changing code; it's about changing what legacy sales, distribution, customer service, and product groups do in the new digital age. It's about bringing big data analytics, mobile, social, marketing automation, cloud computing, and the app economy together to launch new products and services. We're seeing new titles in this digital revolution, new responsibilities, new business models, and major shifts in technology spending.