On the Net ... with UPI

By CHRIS H. SIEROTY, UPI Technolgy Correspondent  |  Aug. 6, 2002 at 10:00 AM
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Last year Oregon Ducks quarterback Joey Harrington's campaign for the Heisman Trophy took him to Times Square in New York. This season, Pac-10 rival Washington State has launched a more modest campaign to promote its star quarterback Jason Gesser for the prestigious award. WSU has launched JasonGesser.com, a Web site to promote and track the senior quarterback's bid for the prestigious Heisman Trophy. The site features biographical information, game-by-game breakdowns, recent news and a photo gallery. Weekly teleconferences with Gesser will be included when the season begins, as will highlights from his previous three seasons. Gesser and the Cougars begin their 2002 season Aug. 31 in Seattle against Nevada. "History suggests that whoever wins the award typically will be coming from a school that has achieved a lot of national exposure," David M. Carter, principal of The Sports Business Group, told UPI's On the Net. "So from that perspective, these campaigns are helpful to get the word out and build some brand recognition around the players they are trying to promote." Carter said the Heisman campaigns also are targeted at next year's prospects. Gesser should get plenty attention this season, as Washington State has been picked to win the 2002 Pac-10 championship in a pre-season poll of media members who cover the league. "I'm excited about (Jason Gesser's) future," head coach Mike Price told reporters at last week's Pac-10 Media Day. "It's so fun to watch him. He's an exciting player." Washington State tied for second in the Pac-10 last year with a 6-2 league record. Overall the Cougars were 10-2 and won the Sun Bowl.


With the stock market down to levels not seen in five years, traffic to various financial news and investment Web sites is skyrocketing, according to the Internet audience measurement firm Nielsen//NetRatings. More than 6 million, or nearly 8 percent of the active Internet population, visited a financial news sites this past week, jumping 22 percent from the week prior. Business Week drew 253,000 visitors, surging 68 percent in traffic, while Forbes jumped 45 percent, attracting 269,000 visitors. "Consumers are turning to the Web to keep a close watch on the stock market as recent volatility sent the market to lower levels," said Patrick Thomas, Internet analyst with Nielsen//NetRatings. Traffic to online stock trading Web sites also surged, growing 6 percent week-over-week to 2.1 million Web surfers.


Online magazine publisher Salon Media Group said its first quarter loss was smaller than in the year-ago quarter, and advertising sales are on pace to improve in the current quarter. The company said it completed a bridge loan of about $700,000 in July, and it is looking for a bank credit facility and an equity investment to strengthen its balance sheet. Salon said its net loss narrowed to $1.7 million, or 12 cents a share, from $2.9 million, or 22 cents a share, in the same period last year. Revenue was $972,000, compared with $973,000 a year earlier. Advertising sales declined to $500,000 from $600,000 due to continued weakness, the company said. In a statement, Michael O'Donnell, Salon's chief executive, said the company already is seeing a pickup with orders booked for the September quarter. "We had 31 advertisers running on Salon during the quarter and signed seven advertisers who either were new or returning to Salon after a long hiatus," he said. Salon added 12,700 new paid subscribers, boosting the total to its three subscription services to 47,7000. Paid subscription services amounted to 43 percent of Salon's revenues in the June quarter.


Layoffs at dot-com firms rose 156 percent in July compared with June but still were 80 percent below last year's figures, Challenger, Gray & Christmas reported. The international outplacement firm reported July dot-com layoffs totaled 1,750 in July, up from 684 in June but down from 8,697 in July 2001. "The wave-like pattern of dot-com job cuts is a phenomenon that we have not seen in our regular job-cut tracking," John Challenger, the firm's chief executive officer said. "It is indicative of the volatility that has enveloped this sector since its beginnings." The largest cuts were among firms offering consumer services (770), followed by technology firms providing networking and storage hardware, software and wiring (498). Dot-com media firms announced 255 cuts, retail firms cut 128 and financials cut 99. So far this year, 9,357 dot-com jobs have been lost. Since December 1999, when Challenger began tracking the dot-com cuts, 151,797 jobs have been lost, more than half of those during the first seven months of 2001.


The Semiconductor Industry Association said chip sales grew 5.8 percent in the June quarter to $11.35 billion from $10.73 in the March quarter. "The semiconductor industry is continuing the recovery that started late last year and we are encouraged by the progress we have made pulling out of the 2001 downturn," said George Scalise, president of SIA. "While computer and computer-related sector demand is lagging, wireless and consumer sectors continue to strengthen." SIA said strong growth in the digital consumer sector led the sales increase in Japan and Asia/Pacific markets continue to benefit from outsourcing for board level and box manufacturing, which is especially strong in China. Sales in the Americas were impacted by the slowness of the recovery in the PC markets. Meanwhile the shake-out and restructuring of the telecom markets, in addition to a slow PC market, inevitability has had a short-term effect on revenues in Europe. Sales in 2002 still are expected to result in approximately 3 percent growth from 2001, and SIA said it continues to expect the growth rate to accelerate to 23.2 percent in 2003 and 20.9 percent in 2004 with wireless and digital consumer products leading growth in sales.


Five Fairfax County, Va., companies are on the latest Hispanic Business magazine list of 50 largest Hispanic-owned technology businesses in the United States. The High-Tech 50 list is in the July/August issue. In all, 10 Virginia companies are on the list, making it the state with the highest number of ranked firms. Three companies are from Maryland and one is from Washington. The rankings are based on 2001 revenues. "Hispanic-owned companies, like so many others, have recognized Fairfax County's proximity to the federal government can help them succeed," said Gerald L. Gordon, president and chief executive officer of the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority. The county is also home to seven companies on Black Enterprise magazine's 2002 list of the 100 largest companies owned by African-Americans.

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