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12/21/2001
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IT Confidential

Last week, Applied Digital Solutions introduced an ID chip intended to be implanted in humans. The VeriChip, which the Palm Beach, Fla., company describes as "about the size of the point of a typical ballpoint pen," contains an ID number and can store a small amount of data, such as medical information. The data can be read by a scanner, and could, for instance, let emergency technicians know a person's most pressing medical needs. Applied Digital also recently introduced a product (and a subsidiary) called Digital Angel that combines biosensor technology and wireless communications linked to a global positioning system in the form of a watch and a pager-sized device. When worn, Digital Angel can not only track a person's location but report medical data such as body temperature and blood oxygen level. It's useful for patients with diseases such as Alzheimer's, who can wander away and get lost. And that's all good. But think about when the two technologies are combined (which they will be), and the call for a national ID system takes on a whole new meaning.

DoubleClick, the online advertising and consumer-data company, last week revealed its first executive-level IT position. Mok Choe, former co-CIO at online brokerage firm Ameritrade, has taken on the CIO position at DoubleClick. Choe says he's charged with making the company's technology operations run more efficiently and improving collaborative efforts between DoubleClick's business and technology operations. After two weeks on the job, Choe, 43, says he's glad he made the switch. "The business model was narrow and deep at Ameritrade," he says, adding that online trading didn't challenge him as much as he thinks online marketing will.

Jack Cooper, longtime CIO of Bristol-Myers Squibb, has left the company and will retire at year's end, sources in the company say. Cooper came to Bristol-Myers in 1994 from the CIO spot at Seagram. Before that, he was head of CSX Technology, the computer operations of transportation giant CSX Corp., where he pioneered E-business systems. There's no word yet on Cooper's replacement at Bristol-Myers.

Huntington Bancshares recently said goodbye to executive VP William Randle, a 10-year vet who spearheaded the bank's E-business projects all the way back to its attempt at screen-phone banking in the early 1990s. Randle is leaving to form a technology VC firm called WMR e-Ventures. Randle's firm will take over Huntington's controlling interest in e-Bank, a software company that sells a customer data-integration system for banks. Randle developed the software as head of e-Huntington, the bank's E-business subsidiary. Randle's departure, and dropping e-Bank, "is consistent with the company's intention to scale back the day-to-day involvement in E-commerce initiatives," a Huntington statement says.

Bill Randle obviously doesn't think technology venture capital is an oxymoron these days. Neither does Len Batterson. The head of Batterson Venture Partners in Chicago plans to raise a $400 million private equity fund, with 75% earmarked for high-tech companies. Batterson, a founding investor in America Online and former director of Allstate Insurance's VC group, wants to make 30 to 35 investments during the life of the fund. He has some impressive backers: AOL founder James Kimsey; Casey Cowell, former U.S. Robotics chairman; John Walter, former head of AT&T; and Alan Schriesheim, former head of Argonne National Laboratory. "It sounds ambitious, given the recent history we've just been through," says Bill Hutchison, Andersen's global director of consulting for the technology industry. "But I don't think it will be ambitious in the next two or three years." Moore's Law will continue to double performance levels, Hutchison says, with "boom times" in 2003 or '04 driven by the next generation of products and services. "It's aggressive, but I think it's a good bet."

Did somebody say Boom Times? Yes, I remember them well: the bulging stock options, the private limo, the corporate masseuse--wait, that wasn't me, that was my financial adviser. He doesn't call me much anymore, but you can call me with an industry tip at 516-562-5326. Or send an E-mail to [email protected]. If you want to talk about the national ID movement, the waning interest in E-commerce, or the coming boom times, meet me at InformationWeek.com's Listening Post: informationweek.com/forum/johnsoat.

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