In My Wildest Dreams
It was more of a whisper than a bang. The news that Novell the company that does that nice Director Service and is fast becoming in many people’s minds, the ‘Consignia’ of the IT industry, has bought Silverstream Software – one of the Dot Com era’s bigger bangs – at a generous $9.00 a share.

At this point I need to declare my interests. I still hold Silverstream stock. In fact, the clever, Java-centric middleware company was once one of my TV stock picks, alongside QXL and Redhat at a time when my virtual portfolio soared from a stake of £100,000 to £478,000, making me the number three tipster in a six month ‘Money Programme’ style competition.

Rather sensibly I think, with hindsight, I chose to put all my winnings into a large virtual yacht, weeks before the Internet bubble burst and today, the value of my carefully chosen portfolio of technology ‘winners’ would probably stretch to buying a new Mini and that’s about all.

Silverstream, for a while there soared from $25 to $126 in the space of a couple of months before creeping back down to $70 and then $40 and when I finally decided to rid myself of my moribund Compaq stock at $35, I thought that Silverstream had to rebound or indeed, be swallowed-up pretty soon.

Well, I was right, almost. Two years later. Silverstream didn’t as much rebound as almost sink without trace as it was squashed between the largest vendors, such as BEA, IBM and Sun and a market that just didn’t want to know about technology stocks. Once the value of the stock dropped below $10.00, I lost interest in the few hundred pounds my original stake was now worth and only came across news of the Novell acquisition this week by accident.

Novell, a company that I helped start in the UK, was, not so long ago, deriding Web services. But memories are short and now it plans to compete directly with IBM and Sun and Microsoft for a share of tomorrow’s promised multi-billion Web services business.

Novell’s ‘One Net’ – the name is vaguely familiar - and clever ‘eXtend’ product line is part of the company’s new ‘Web stuff’ integration strategy which will allow companies to reach deeper into the information hidden in legacy systems. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with this idea other than trying to convince myself that Novell could succeed in taking market share away from its larger rivals, just because it happened upon Silverstream at a Boot Fair?

So today, I’m once again the proud owner of Novell stock, not something I would have chosen to do but look on the bright side, at least I can afford to buy a Big Mac Meal with what was once left of my original Silverstream investment. To be honest, I can’t see Silverstream reversing Novell’s declining fortunes, as hard as I try to be charitable. I’m now just waiting for someone to buy Novell. Any guesses?


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