A Case of the Beltway Blues
In the latest in a string of unfortunate events for America Online, Vienna, Va., which include a Federal Trade Commission inquiry into charging practices and dropping stock prices, William Razzouk has resigned as president and chief operating officer after just four months with the company.
Razzouk, who previously worked at Federal Express, said he didn't want to relocate his family from Memphis, Tenn., to the Washington D.C., area.
Steve Case, AOL's chairman and CEO, signaled he would resume a growing role in marketing strategies, pricing and product plans. Case had hired Razzouk to oversee these areas.
"It has become clear that my continued active involvement in major day-to-day business decisions would be helpful to AOL," Case said in a statement this week.
MCI Backbone Speeds Up
MCI Communications Corp., Washington, D.C., plans to spend $60 million over the next six months to quadruple its Internet backbone speed from 155 megabits per second to 622 megabits.
With the improved system, MCI promises customers will rarely experience Internet delays. In addition, new customers will be able to get on-line faster, the company said.
In January, MCI tripled its backbone speed from 45 to 155 megabits per second. MCI said it needed to again increase speed as Internet use is expected to grow 100 percent over the next 12 months.
SHL Buys Stake in Cogni-CASE
SHL Systemhouse Inc., Ottawa, Canada, purchased 45 percent of the voting shares of Cogni-CASE Inc., a Montreal-based firm specializing in computer re-engineering. The latter is known for its development of Cogni-2000, a software tool that helps automate the conversion of central processing system date and time stamps to the year 2000.
The deal includes a license agreement for SHL to use CCI's tools for year 2000 projects. The year 2000 practice will be established in Montreal with the acquired interest in CCI.
The Gartner Group of Stamford, Conn., estimates that worldwide spending on year 2000 conversion projects will top $600 billion in the next three years.
Out for a Spin
Bell Atlantic Federal Systems, Washington, D.C., is inviting potential government customers to "test drive" its telecommunications equipment before buying.
People can check out technologies at Bell Atlantic's new Intelligent Applications Center in the lobby of the company's H Street building. The center features a theater and a hands-on demonstration area.
Technologies now on display include an automated call distributor; videoconferencing systems, asynchronous transfer mode equipment and a remote network access system.
Netscape Passes 10 Billion Hits
Netscape Communications Corp., Mountain View, Calif., recently announced that its site has received more than 10 billion hits since it first came on-line about two years ago. The site receives more than 80 million hits a day.
The company also announced that its popular World Wide Web browser, Netscape Navigator, has reached an installed base of more than 38 million users, becoming the world's most widely installed computer application. In comparison, International Data Corp., Framingham, Mass., estimates that the installed base of Microsoft Office users is 22 million, Microsoft Excel is 30 million and Microsoft Word is 21 million. Navigator has been on the market for just 18 months, while Microsoft has taken years to build its market dominance.
Compaq's Ambitious Plans
Compaq Computer Corp. recently debuted its new line of portable computers with the goal of recapturing the No. 1 market share position worldwide for portables.
Among the normal product shots sent out with the press kit, the company included a slide showing what appears to be a Little League coach and his team clustered around a portable computer located at home plate. WT wonders whether the company really hopes to recapture the No. 1 slot with help from sales to children's sports teams or whether Compaq has gotten overzealous in its marketing efforts. Could this be carrying mobile computing too far?