undertaking of great advantage
I went down to the Brushtail Cafe at 10 am on Thursday morning, nursing
a badly gnawed tail, Joadja handed me Ben Hills' story on Johnson Wang
-- "Australia's Bill Gates" -- in the Sydney Morning Herald.
had been hoping for a late breakfast and a little passing sympathy but
when my eyes passed over the page I got the sort of warm feeling creeping
over my skin that you feel when you piss in your wetsuit.
had got my tail chomped at 2.30 am on the edge of Killara Golf Course
by somebody's fucking pig-dog while I was doing some snooping into the
affairs of Mr Wang and his internet company, Eisa, which were trying
to buy Ozemail ahead of Telstra. I got my claws in the dog's eye sockets
and he let go. There was a moment of confused grappling but I seized
him in the possum grip and bashed him against the paling fence and he
bolted off into the darkness, yelping hideously.
Wang, is Eisa's founder, deputy chairman, and the major shareholder.
In 1996 John Howard presented him with the National Bank's Ethnic Businessman
of the Year Award, but last Friday he was "uncontactable"
and had left the company in the hands of the Eisa CEO, a hapless MBA
who answered to the name of Damien Brady.
must have been the worst day of Brady's short life, fending off relentless
media inquiries about the weird goings-on in Wang's companies which
included the mysterious torching of his Killara home, an $2.5 million
inside-job theft of computer chips, a current law suit from Microsoft
and a devastating judgement from a New Zealand court for selling motherboards
with dummy cache chips.
bunch of jerks have invested $57 million in Eisa in an orgy of speculation
that industry specialists described as the second-hottest technology
float of 1999, but by Friday many people were wondering if they'd done
their dough. Most of the country's internet business journalists were
Herald described Eisa as a "net giant" but, truth to tell,
it's just a tiny Melbourne-based internet provider which has never made
a profit -- another highly speculative play in the increasingly shaky
world of technology stocks.
had been plugged relentlessly in the papers by a sloe-eyed cartoon nymphette
called Lisa who looked like she'd been hand-crafted to appeal to both
lesbians and SNAGS by some ad agency committee. "Call Lisa at eisa",
the line went. She promised to get you on the net for a cent a minute,
and from the way her eyes were narrowed and her left eyebrow cocked,
you felt she was a warm-hearted lass who might happily do the right
thing ... if you asked her nicely.
was snickering over these things and a cup of Joadja's Timor Arabica
when Bruce and Tarkis came in. They were looking less than ecstatic.
how are your shares in south.seas going", I asked innocently.
was hoping you wouldn't ask", Bruce said. "All of a sudden
they went down, and I just managed to get out, twenty cents ahead."
were lucky, Comrade. What did you do with the proceeds?"
put the lot in Eisa. I suppose you read this morning's paper."
sorry about that. I would have warned you first, if I'd have known,
but you yuppies have got to understand ... you're fucking with stuff
you don't understand. Have you ever heard of the original South Seas
Bubble?" I asked.
suppose you're going to tell us."
took place in 1720 It was the first big crash of a capitalist boom.
There was even a float for "an undertaking of great advantage,
but nobody to know what it is". Can't tell you the story now, tho.
I've got an appointment with the lawyers about the Moran case",
I said. And that was how we left it.
in Whispers from the mean streets
-- Best of 2000