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Good Morning Silicon Valley

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Posted on Fri, Oct. 01, 2004
R E L A T E D    L I N K S
 •  PeopleSoft fires CEO after 'losing confidence'
 •  Netflix, TiVo confirm alliance
 •  Giving some thought to thinking
 •  Governor vetoes more bills that would restrict offshoring
 •  2 ex-Clarent execs sued by regulators
 •  Sun system to aid researchers
 •  Oceans might add to Earth's rock 'n' roll

PeopleSoft board succeeds in hostile takeover of Conway's office

"If [PeopleSoft CEO Craig Conway and his dog] were standing next to each other and I had one bullet, trust me, it wouldn't be for the dog," Oracle CEO Larry Ellison once famously said (see "Conway's dog breathing easier after Ellison speech"). Well, looks like Ellison can save that last bullet, because PeopleSoft's board of directors beat him to it with some friendly fire. This morning the company sacked Conway, citing a "loss of confidence in [his] ability to continue to lead the company." The company appointed Dave Duffield, PeopleSoft's founder and chairman, as CEO and named CFO Kevin Parker and Phil Wilmington co-presidents. Conway's dismissal comes on the eve of Oracle's civil trial against PeopleSoft, which seeks the dissolution of the company's poison-pill anti-takeover measure, and may signal a sea change in the company's view of Oracle's hostile takeover offer.

Q  U  O  T  E  D

"Have you ever had a bad dream that just didn't end?"

-- Some famous last words from now-deposed PeopleSoft CEO Craig Conway

TiVo, Netflix sign pre-nup: Netflix and TiVo emerged from their secluded hideaway into the flashbulbs of the paparazzi Thursday, going public with a relationship that had been the subject of speculation for quite some time now (see "TiVo, Netflix spotted making out in back row"). As expected, the two companies are planning a video-on-demand service that will allow owners of TiVo's digital video recorders to download and, potentially, store dozens of movies. "For TiVo and Netflix, this is our Toyota Prius," said Reed Hastings, chief executive of Los Gatos-based Netflix. "DVD and gasoline-powered engines will both last for a long time. But not forever." The companies declined to offer a definitive release date for the service, but Hastings has often said the company plans to bring its VoD service online by the end of 2005. That seems an optimistic date, though. Before going to market, Netflix and TiVo need film distribution rights from a motion picture industry for whom the Internet has long been anathema. Said American Technology Research analyst Rob Sanderson: "There is going to be a lot of excitement about a potential service, but it is going to come down to licensing and distribution rights, which may be more of a challenge than many people on Wall Street really understand."

There are lots of ways to abuse the DMCA, but this isn't one of them: With all the outcry over the questionable security of its electronic voting machines (see "Diebold mulling new hanging chad feature for next AccuVote-TSx," "Diebold PR department files early entry in 2004 "Black is White" contest," and "Diebold: We are pleased the attorney general has decided to beat us with a stick instead of a pipe"), you'd think that Diebold Election Systems would have made a concerted effort to keep a low profile, at least until the November election. Not so. Earlier this year, the company issued cease-and-desist letters to more than a dozen individuals who posted copies of some internal Diebold memos to the Web. Those memos discussed security flaws in Diebold's electronic voting machines and suggested the company was well aware of them when it sold them to states including California, Maryland and Georgia. At the time Diebold said the memos were stolen from its servers and that publishing them or even linking to them was a violation of Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). In arguing this, Diebold was about as full of it as a Midwest manure truck. And now a California district court judge has said as much. On Thursday the judge ruled that the company knowingly misrepresented the posters' alleged infringement and purposefully misused the DMCA in its attempt to silence them. "No reasonable copyright holder could have believed that the portions of the e-mail archive discussing possible technical problems with Diebold's voting machines were protected by copyright," Judge Jeremy Fogel wrote in his decision. "The Court concludes as a matter of law that Diebold knowingly materially misrepresented that Plaintiffs infringed Diebold's copyright interest."

Microsoft: European Union antitrust ruling in defiance of laws of God and man: Microsoft may be ready to comply with a European Union order forcing it to provide a version of its Windows operating system without Windows Media Player, but it's doing all that it can to avoid it. During the second day of hearings at the European Court of First Instance, Microsoft attorney Jean-Francois Bellis overstated the potential harmful effects of stripping Media Player out of Windows , arguing to do so would hurt consumers and third-party software developers. "Fragmentation of the Windows platform is bad for third-party developers," he said. "There is a public interest in preserving the unity of the Windows platform." There's public interest all right, but I bet these days most of it is in Redmond.

And yes, the farting herring study won too: Harvard University this week awarded its annual Ig Nobel prizes for scientific achievements that "cannot or should not be reproduced." Among the dubious contributions to science recognized in this year's ceremony: a patent describing the comb-over, an investigation into the scientific validity of the Five-Second Rule, the Vatican's effort to outsource prayers to India, and finally, a study examining the link between country music and metropolitan suicide rates.

Off topic: MeatShake and Top 11 Reasons Why You Just Saw Porn on My Computer Screen

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Good Morning Silicon Valley is written and edited with the able assistance of John Murrell.

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