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IT Confidential

Ellison joked that he doesn't want to live forever, only 10,000 or 20,000 years. "It takes time to spend all that money," he said

Last year's IT job market was dismal, the worst in 5-1/2 years. But one area of relief was contract work, specifically at the CIO level, to judge from the success of contract firms such as Tatum CIO Partners. Tatum CIO, which is modeled on its successful older brother, Tatum CFO, is a collection of IT hired guns launched last April, originally with 35 partners in five cities but now with 85 partners in 11 cities. Tatum CIO said last week that it has hired Tom Evans as its new co-managing partner and chief marketing officer. Evans comes to Tatum CIO from PricewaterhouseCoopers, where he developed and implemented the consulting firm's global portal. "C-level jobs for the most part have trended away from being permanent positions, where you're there for 30 or 40 years," Evans says. "They're really more like contract assignments now." Tatum CIO is growing faster than planned, Evans says, but the company has been negatively affected by the slowdown in the economy. It may also be benefiting from it. "We do see more CIOs than we saw a couple of years ago, but that's to our advantage," Evans says. "We've had the good fortune of having a large pool of perspective partners."

Another growth area in IT employment is supply chains and logistics, says a consultant working in that industry. "There may be a slew of IT types unemployed in Silicon Valley, but the demand for individuals with solid IT credentials has remained undaunted in the supply chain/logistics arena," says Chuck Franzetta, CEO of Franzetta & Associates, a boutique supply-chain consulting firm in Boalsburg ("birthplace of Memorial Day"), Pa. Along with consulting work and contract work, Franzetta says, his clients often tap him to recruit talent. "Maybe the fact that we charge a lot less than the headhunters has something to do with the frequency of those requests," he says.

Rich Christensen has been tapped as business information systems officer for the Musicland Group, an entertainment retailer. Christensen had been VP of enterprise technology services for Best Buy, the parent company of Musicland. In the newly created position, Christensen will be responsible for linking Musicland's "business unit strategy to its enterprise technology capabilities," according to a statement from the company, as well as overseeing Musicland's IS department.

Is Linux losing its luster? Guy (Bud) Tribble last week left his gig at Eazel, where he was VP of engineering leading development of next-generation user-interface software and Internet services for Linux computers, to rejoin his old employer, Apple Computer, as VP of software technology. Tribble began his career at Apple where, as manager of the original Macintosh software team, he helped to design the Mac OS and user interface. "Bud is one of the industry's top experts in software design and object-oriented programming," says Avie Tevanian, Apple's senior VP of software engineering. Tribble was chief technology officer at the Sun-Netscape Alliance, responsible for Internet and E-commerce software R&D. Tribble also helped found Steve Jobs' Next Computer, where he was VP of software engineering and a key architect of the NextStep operating system. At the time, Tribble's move to Eazel was ballyhooed as a big win for the Linux community.

Outspoken Oracle CEO Larry Ellison was in top form last week when he appeared at San Francisco's Herbst Theater as part of a City Arts and Lectures series. In response to an audience question, Ellison blamed the media for the financial meltdown of Enron, the billion-dollar energy exchange that recently declared bankruptcy, by blowing things out of proportion and causing a "run on the bank" in Enron stock, with Enron the equivalent of an unregulated bank or an unregulated stock exchange. Ellison also compared the questionable financial practices at Enron to a "$20 lunch" that shouldn't have been allowed as an expense under company rules, but wouldn't topple a company.

Whew!--that clears that up. I'm sure the auditors at Arthur Andersen will be glad to hear that, and so will the White House. Send me your best Enron rationalizations or an industry tip to [email protected] or phone 516-562-5326. If you want to talk about C-level jobs, Linux letdown, or Enron entropy, meet me at's Listening Post:

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