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7/19/2002
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IT Confidential

"A billion PCs -- that's a tremendous amount of plastic, lead, mercury," says activist Schneider. "What are we going to do with it?"

At Dell Computer's shareholder meeting last week in downtown Austin, Texas, an environmental group polled attendees on their knowledge of issues involved in PC disposal and recycling. According to Robin Schneider, executive director of Texas Campaign For The Environment, of the 72 attendees who responded to the group's survey, almost two-thirds were aware that PCs represent hazardous waste because they incorporate toxins such as lead and mercury, but less than a third knew that most of that hazardous waste ends up in developing countries, shipped there by recyclers. Also, almost half favor manufacturers being responsible for obsolete computers, which is the case in Europe and Japan. Dell recently announced a recycling program, similar to ones by Hewlett-Packard and IBM, that encourages consumers to ship their obsolete PCs to the manufacturer, which will recycle parts and dispose of toxic waste. However, Schneider says the HP and IBM programs have been disappointing, mainly because consumers don't want to pay to ship the computers back to vendors.

Computer Associates last week appointed four new board members, among them Kenneth Cron, CEO of the electronic games division at Vivendi Universal (and former president of CMP Media, publisher of InformationWeek), and Thomas Wyman, former chairman and CEO of CBS. The new members take seats vacated by, among others, Richard Grasso, chairman of the New York Stock Exchange. The board shuffle comes as CA is under investigation by both the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Justice Department, and under fire from dissident shareholder Sam Wyly, who seeks to oust CA chairman Charles Wang and CEO Sanjay Kumar.

Mark Hoffman, CEO of once high-flying Internet software firm Commerce One, isn't blaming his company's poor financial performance on its breakup with ERP vendor SAP last December. Hoffman says his company was nearly 100% dependent on SAP for new software license revenue at the time, and that revenue dried up nearly overnight. "For the majority of our pipeline, we had to start from scratch," Hoffman says. The blame for the bad numbers (second-quarter revenue of $27.8 million, down from $101.3 million a year ago; software license revenue down nearly 75%; stock price less than $1) goes mostly to the slow economy and the aftermath of Sept. 11. There's a bright side, though. More than 90% of the company's current business is non-SAP-related. Still, Commerce One has shrunk to 1,174 employees from 3,700 last year and was forced to abandon a building on its Pleasanton, Calif., campus. "It's like we're a startup all over again," Hoffman says. "We do have a good customer base, but it's like we're starting over."

Add James Woolsey to the 1,000 former intelligence officers working at Booz Allen Hamilton. The management and IT consulting firm hired the former CIA director as a VP in its Global Strategic Security practice. Woolsey, 60, will head a team to help companies deal with direct risks to personnel, information, and physical properties, as well as indirect risks to markets and external infrastructure. Among other ex-spies at Booz Allen are Michael McConnell, former National Security Agency director, and Rich Wilhelm, senior policy adviser on terrorism and intelligence to former Vice President Al Gore.

Bob Pittman, AOL Time Warner chief operating officer who was named interim CEO of the America Online division just three months ago, stepped down last week. A spokeswoman says Pittman is leaving to spend more time with his family, and the company expects to name a replacement within 60 days. Pittman's departure may prove to be a welcome purge, Yankee Group analyst Rob Lancaster contends. "Let's get some fresh blood in there," he says. "They need another executive to come in and turn this company around."


There's something about the expression "fresh blood" that gives me the heebie-jeebies. It's not the predatory implications (I used to go hunting with my dad), it's the replacement prospects. Couldn't we just say, "inexperienced and immature talent." Got a more disparaging euphemism? Or an industry tip? Send to jsoat@cmp.com or phone 516-562-5326. If you want to talk about PC recycling or starting over, meet me at InformationWeek.com's Listening Post: informationweek.com/forum/johnsoat.

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