Welcome to this week's edition of The Chicago Brain Trust, "a humorous
look at the Chicago-area's e-business community."
As always, if you're looking for our signature cartoons, boogie on over
to <http://chicagobraintrust.com/retinalimages.htm<, and while you're at
it, check out our fine selection of daily comic strips at
And now, on with the show, and an even more Chicago-centric edition...
Chief Executive Smart-Ass
The Chicago Brain Trust
Warning: There is no truth in any of the materials in this newsletter,
except by satirical inference.
National Association For Acquiring Wealthy Spouses Revises Internet
(Chicago, IL) In an emergency summit, preceding their annual convention,
the National Association For Acquiring Wealthy Spouses (NAFAWS) revised
their ratings for eligible singles in the profession of Internet
"It was very trendy, two years ago, to marry an Internet executive,"
Mindi Newman, NAFAWS president-elect told reports. "The salaries were
huge, the stock options plentiful, and the little dears were always at
the office, so you had your time to yourself."
It seems the dot-bomb phenomenon has tempered long-term expectations on
the worth of Internet executives as marital partners. The stock market
plunge has sent net-worth's plummeting overnight and liquid assets have
been eaten up during periods of unemployment, causing some NAFAWS
members to set their sights on mates in more traditional lines of work,
like petroleum executive, physician and trust fund recipient.
"The problem with Internet executives isn't so much the salary as the
volatility of assets," Newman explained. "Given the high divorce rate
amongst our members, a rapidly fluctuating net worth, commonly caused by
assets like stock options suffering through bear and bull markets, can
make timing the market for a divorce problematic. If you finalize your
settlement when the stock is at a temporary peak and it bottoms out
before you can cash out, what was the point of the marriage?
"Similarly, the culture of vesting schedules amongst Internet executives
has influenced their pre-nuptial agreements. In some severe cases,
Internet executives are limiting the assets available in case of divorce
on a sliding scale determined by the length of the marriage.
Ironically, prior to the proliferation of stock options that made these
Internet works so attractive as partners, a vesting schedule was unheard
of in matrimonial matters. Now it limits their appeal."
NAFAWS has officially downgraded the rating of Internet executives to
Hold from Accumulate Dates.
"While the lack of meaningful stock options is a minus, these executives
are still drawing decent salaries, in many cases," Newman elaborated.
"As there is always a chance the market will rebound and their earnings
potential will rise. As such, we have lowered them to a Hold rating,
instead of a Dump rating. We do have the caveat that male NAFAWS
members should continue to Accumulate Dates with female Internet
Executives, as there are relatively few of them and their availability
should dry up quickly in the case of a market upswing."
Want to laugh at something besides business?
Indignant Online... because ATTITUDE matters
...we have sports, too
In the words of Shaggy
By The Big Head
While I don't normally like to do local stories, I felt some recent
activities warranted such action.
Recently the state of Illinois announced they were voting to cut the
funding for technology by about $20MM. I found this incredulous, until
I started to think about the way things really work here in our lovely
What I have come to realize is that no one really accepts
responsibility. It is all about protecting personal and political turf.
While most of our leaders talk a good game, in reality very little gets
Why is that I began to ponder? Is it lack of vision? Fortitude?
Support? Funding? Belief? Testicals? What exactly could it be?
Last time I checked, technology was the fastest growing industry and
sector. It had the highest paying jobs and the potential for the most
substantial increase in the tax revenue.
Why then would the state vote to cut the funding? Additionally, why did
the coalition, wait until a single week before the vote to attempt to
rally the troops? How much of a difference could we really make in just
under a week?
While we don't yet know the outcome of the vote, it begat a train of
thought. This led me to question all sorts of issues, many of which
remain unresolved and a few of which I am throwing in just for the hell
While it is often quoted, "the story you are about to hear is real, the
names have been changed to protect the innocent", none of that such
shannangry (that is a president Bush word if you were unsure) will occur
here. No, we are not protecting the names of the innocent, because in
our opinion, most of them are not innocent.
If you are reading this outside of Chicago, feel free to drop the names
in of your own local leaders; I'm sure it will be as relevant.
Last, the following has the most dramatic impact if you have ever heard
the song by the quasi rap/reggae artist Shaggy. He has a great song
titled, "it wasn't me". The premise is, whenever someone accuses you of
doing something, or expected you to do something, your patented response
is....."It wasn't me".
With that, let's play our little song: After each question, follow it
with the answer; "It Wasn't Me!" (Shortened after each question to
"IWM" to save me from typing)
Shaye Mandle; I thought you were supposed to have more pull than this?
Governor Ryan; I thought you were supposed to fight harder for your
technology initiatives? IWM
Illinois Coalition; I thought you were supposed to do more than 3 panels
a quarter? IWM
IDFA: I thought you were supposed to give out all of you 16 million or
so over 3 years? IWM
DECCA: I thought after your Boeing win, you would be able to save the
technology budget? IWM
Katherine Gehl: I hoped you would have an initiative that would make an
impact on Chicago and would have stuck by your guns with the McKinsey
Flip Filipowski: I though you were an incubator company who would
protect and nurture your investment companies? IWM
David Weinstein: I thought you would have sense not to spend $30 Million
in 8 months? IWM
Bill Lederer: I thought you would more closely watch your money,
especially when $23 Million was being spent with no customer
Mayor Daley: I thought you had more clout than to let flip pull out of
the Skyscraper fund and the local investment community to consistently
fool you into thinking they were supporting the local technology
A local VC: an early stage investment? IWM
Jim Downing (IVCA); an attempt to address what McKinsey points out is a
detriment to Chicago in the lack of early stage investing? IWM
Skyscraper fund; I thought you were supposed to invest in Chicago
companies, last I checked Schaumburg companies don't pay Chicago taxes?
Michael Gray; I thought you were supposed to invest the money into local
Local Entrepreneurs: I thought you were supposed to learn how to read a
balance sheet, wisely spend money, and know what the sales cycle is for
your product? IWM
The universities; I thought you were supposed to develop a good
technology transfer program so students could and would be encouraged to
start businesses and remain in Illinois? IWM
First Tuesday and Big Frontier: I thought you would realize that
eventually, if none of the companies have any money to buy the services,
eventually the sponsors will get smart, figure that out and quite
Ron May: I thought you would figure out that if all you do is report
negativity and lay offs, ultimately there will be no companies left to
report anything on at all? IWM
Prairie Angels: I thought if you are an Angel group you were supposed to
actually make an investment? IWM
Pate Phillips: I thought you were above holding a grudge for not being
included in the Boeing deal? IWM
Prairie Fire: I thought you were going to pick the top 10 companies who
had the best chance of getting funded....and then actually help them?
TIE: I thought you would announce the rules of participation BEFORE an
event when it came to the opportunity to present to the Prairie Angels?
John Stroiber of Fast Record: I really hoped you could hold out longer?
The recent company requesting info on ProofSpace: Where were you a year
ago when they actually needed a client? IWM
Anyone who could have invested in PayPal; I hoped one of our local
Investors would have recognized a good technology before they left for
the west coast and raised $175 Million in Funding? IWM
And the beat goes on. So, there you have it, next time you hear someone
say something that you know isn't true, or doesn't make any sense,
realize what there answer will be; "It wasn't me!"
The Big Head
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New Tissues Headlines for Week of 5-29
5-28-2001 (Chicago) e. e. Cummings Risen From Grave and Naming
Researchers at the University of Chicago's Venkman School of
Parapsychology have detected paranormal activity surrounding local
Internet firms. "i-Street, ePrairie, iExplore, eFiltration, iGive,
marchFIRST, divine interVentures... it's obvious," said Professor Randi
of the Venkman School. "The punctuation style is clearly the work of
the ghost of e.e. Cummings, with his famous capitalization quirks,
exerting influence over unwitting executives trying to name their
Professor Randi first became aware of the ghost, when marchFIRST
contacted her in search of an explanation for their company's name.
Unfortunately, early attempts at exorcisms have only resulted in the
firm going out of business, but Professor Randi assures the CBT that the
Venkman School, funded by executives looking for a convenient excuse,
will endeavor to find a less fatal way to remove the Cummings influence
from the tech scene.
5-28-2001 (Chicago). Skyscraper Fund is Reconstituted, Selects First
After falling on hard times this winter when Divine, Inc. withdrew its
financial support, the Skyscraper Fund could not follow through on its
mandate to Fund Chicago start-ups. However all is well with since the
City was able to find $12-$15 in supporting revenues. As a result, the
Fund announced it's first three investments: BlueMeteor.com,
BeautyJungle.com and Eppraisals.com.
"We called over to each to let them know we have selected them, but they
haven't returned our calls," said Skyscraper bigwig Jim Tyree. "I'm sure
they'll get back to us soon. They have such sterling business plans,
they're probably just too busy to telephone."
5-29-2001 (Springfield) Heavy Lobbying from Illinois Coalition Results
in Restoration of Tech in State Budget.
In a strange reversal, State funds were restored to the budget at the
last minute. "Wow, that was close," said Shaye Mandel, the State's key
tech czar. Fifteen minutes before presentation to the legislature, the
funds mysteriously appeared. All lobbying by Chicago's high-tech
community late last week seemed to go nowhere, leaving it unlikely that
state lawmakers would restore $21.3 million in technology.
But Mandel took another tact, which seemed to work. "I contacted the
low-tech community, principally Vito Boomba, (aka "Vinny da Violinist")
and he said he's have 'a conversation wit Pate'," Shaye said. Word is
Vito said, "Eh, dat Pate guy came tru and since he went wit the money
showin up in da budget, he looks better dan he wood if he was part of da
new runways at Midway." Word on the street is that Vito "invested" in
Fermi Lab: "'Cause you gotta take care of dem piasans." No one
volunteered to tell Vito that Fermi's been dead for 40 years.
5-29-2001 (Evanston) Brain Drain from Chicago's Business Schools
The latest statistics show fewer members of the graduating classes at
Northwestern's Kellogg Graduate School of Management and the University
of Chicago's Graduate School of Business are heading west than in recent
years. "They seem to be heading for the beach," a Kellogg staffer was
cited as saying. "Of course, when summer's over, they might be heading
to these locations in California they put on their forwarding
addresses." She continued.
An informal poll of business school graduates taken by the CBT indicated
that when asked if Chicago would be considered as a job location;
giggles and outfight guffaws immediately followed. In one case, this
reporter was asked which drug was I using, because "that would be
excellent, dude - especially if I stay in Chicago."
5-30-2001 (Oak Brook) McDonald's Adopts Payment Technology - and Gets
Gas in the Process.
In its ongoing quest to cut service times for fast food, McDonald's
Corp. Monday said it's employing high-tech electronic payment systems to
speed the fast food gas payment process. "We can't get the food to you
quicker, but we can take your money faster," a company spokesperson was
quoted as saying. By using a payment device designed by Exxon Mobil
Corp. for use at its Mobil gas stations, McDonald's expects to let the
system charge your gastric discomfort to your favorite credit card.
"The idea came to us when we realized a significant by-product of our
food was gas. So why not charge for it just like Mobil does?" When
explained that the gas they were talking about was different than what
Mobil dispensed, the spokesperson seemed disappointed. "Huh? Well, I
guess we could just use it to pay for the food, I suppose," Was the
5-31-2001 (Chicago) Survey Debunks Theory of Lack of Venture Investment
Money in Chicago.
The Illinois Venture Capital Association released its latest survey on
the state of venture Capital Money in Chicago. "Our statistics show
that there is a 20% gain in investment capital in this City," cited IVCA
Executive Director Jim Downing. "Just because we haven't invested in
anything here doesn't mean there isn't any money available."
When queried about local investments in the near future, Downing
indicated that IVCA's first priority was to fund a high-tech PR firm
that could tout the " . . . absolute tons of investments we might make
in the upcoming year. After all, you just saw how we promoted pro-growth
legislative initiatives in Illinois with our assistance on the State
5-31-2001 (Chicago) Illinois Development Finance Authority (IDFA)
Announces $470,000 in Investments - A Host of Firms to Follow in the
Next 6 Months.
The Illinois Development Finance Authority announced investments in
three companies. "Now all we have to do is make 120 more investments in
the next six months and we've reached our goal," Nora Blizfig said. "If
we review 5 business plans a week and put together 100 panels, we'll
have no trouble giving out the $20 million we're chartered to
When queried by CBT staff as to why only 3 companies received funds
since January, Ms. Blizfig recounted, "Well, er, we got a slow start,
but we're really humming now." Asked if she could name any companies
under consideration, she cited Blue Meteor and Eppraisals.com. As the
first step in the process, companies seeking funds were invited to send
their business plans to State Senator Pate Phillips.
The BIGfrontier BIG Bandwidth Birthday Bash
DATE: Tuesday, June 12, 2001
LOCATION: Drink Nightclub, 702 West Fulton Street, Chicago
COST: FREE - and the first drink's always on us!
INFO: http://www.bigfrontier.org (312) 923-7601
Selecting "Men In Black and Blue"
By I.P. Daley
Editor In Chief
Todd Allen, our "resident and chief Smart-Ass" approached me during one
of my lucent moments last week, griping that we have a Women in Black
program in town but no Men in Black. For those of you who have been
locked away even further and longer than yours truly, Women in Black is
program that annually celebrates the achievement of women in the tech
Todd was upset that we don't do the same for those of the other gender,
but I had to take the politically correct posture, as I was seated at
the time, and inform him that men don't need to be recognized for their
contribution to tech as women do, because we already get plenty of
This did not seem to mollify Todd, but as we debated (as I drifted in
and out), it occurred to me that I was partially right, but not
completely so - and in a flash of brilliance, it struck me (or was that
my nurse?): WE DO NEED TO CELEBRATE MEN IN CHICAGO TECH - BUT WHAT WE
NEED TO CELEBRATE IS MASCULINE FAILURE!
Think of it; 20 men selected each year, or whenever we get around to it,
for their contribution to the Chicago Tech Wreck! And as such black is
appropriate - you know - as in mourning. Well, after Todd stopped
laughing, we sat down with The Big Head and started throwing some
David Wienstein, for his ability to spend more money faster than a drunk
at the dice tables in Las Vegas (and he didn't even get lucky, so I
Bob Bernard, for his excellent management of March (or is it April)
Bill Lederer, for his great foresight in investing in a wonderful string
of successful e-companies.
Andrew, "Flip" Filipowski, for reinventing divine interVentures into a
"software company" at the expense of their 40 incubated (more like
Ron May, for ensuring that no self-respecting investor would show up in
a town with so, so many failures.
Mohan Sawhney, for his perfect batting average on Internet business
Bill Schermer, for focusing and spending more money on marketing than on
actual sales creation.
But we picked the easy ones, now you get to rack your brains, scratch
your ____ and fill out the field. Send your picks to me
IPDaley@thechicagobraintrust.com and we'll publish them. Please, in the
interest of our audience's average age of 11 and their sensitivity, keep
you language to only the highest level when describing your selection's
reason for nomination. And don't come up with any women either, we had a
few in mind, but this is "Men in Black and Blue", not "Dufuses in Black
After a week or so or when you people run out of ink, our e-mail server
crashes from overload, or we get served with a lawsuit by the feminist
community, Todd, the Head and your Editor will put our heads, or other
parts of our anatomy, together and pick the best twenty.
The Prize, you ask? Give us some time and we'll come up with something,
but you may suggest that as well.
Until next week or when they release me,
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See sample work at: www.sitevisions.com/2001/portfolio.htm
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This has been a production of the Chicago Brain Trust. All materials
are copyright 2001, The Chicago Brain Trust, all rights reserved.
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