Bruce and Tarkis swaggered into the cafe and called for a bottle of
Bollinger I kept very still behind my newspaper, but it was no use.
lurkin' over there Nick, you scruffy old gumshoe! Come and have a drink
with us", Tarkis said, tossing his bankcard to Joadja with an extravagant
the occasion?" I asked warily. I have lived a long time and learned
to avoid PR types.
celebrating Bruce's big windfall. His south.seas shares doubled in value
after the big internet merger -- they're worth $345 each" Tarkis
So you sold them then?"
of course not! They're sure to go higher", Bruce said, popping
the cork so it ricocheted off the ceiling.
they pay much of a dividend?"
capitalism. A dividend is when the company makes a profit and gives
you some of it on a per-share basis", I spoke slowly and clearly.
It was a concept not well understood in the new capitalism.
they've never made an actual profit, but the losses have been getting
smaller for the last three years. They only lost fourteen million last
What was the turnover?"
million but the point is, this is the future. The internet is going
to change the whole way we live and do business."
took up the theme: "All the media technologies are converging,
and south.seas is in a strategic position. Soon you'll be able to use
your TV to access the internet, or download movies to watch". He
sounded like he'd been reading Paul Sheehan, or even those rod-wallopers
so, but I access the internet already and on the very odd occasion I
get a video from the shop up the road. What's the difference? The video
shop will close down and I'll watch TV on my computer monitor. So what?"
whole basis of retailing is going to change -- you'll be able to do
your shopping on the internet and pay for it instantly!"
what? I've done a fair bit of shopping using the electric telephone
and the Yellow Pages in my time. I paid for it instantly on the Bankcard.
And I've bought a few things out of catalogues, although sometimes what
turned up wasn't quite what was in the photo. Internet marketing is
like the old catalogue marketing. It works for some things but not for
others. Sometimes you don't feel comfortable unless you can fondle the
merchandise. Anyway, what do south.seas actually do? Is it a search
no! It's much more it's a portal incorporating a user-friendly interface
fronting a search engine that interrogates other search engines."
How does it actually make money?"
was floated on Wall Street. It's valued at $97 billion."
"Yes, that's the market valuation ... it means that if everybody
who has shares sells them at the last price quoted, that's what they'll
all get for their shares. Of course, in the real world, if everybody
tries to sell at once, the price crashes. Anyway, the point is, it doesn't
give the company a cent more. What I meant was, how does south.seas
generate cash-flow on a daily basis? What does it actually sell apart
little banner advertisements at the top of the homepage."
they just sell a bit of advertising like everybody else."
no, it isn't just advertising, that's just part of it, it's a question
of strategic positioning. It's a new industrial revolution ... a stake
in the future".
just another technology!", I said. "It'll displace some things,
there'll be a few surprises, it'll lead us in directions we didn't expect,
but it isn't going to change everything. I mean, why did you come down
here to celebrate? why didn't you order a crate of bubbly on the internet
and sit in the office surfing the net? I'll tell you why: it was easier
and quicker, and reality is more fun."
such a cynic", Bruce said.
in Whispers from the mean streets
-- Best of 2000