Most Silicon Valley High-Tech Execs Not Bugged By Y2K Fears And Won't Take Major Steps To Preparegreenspun.com : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread
The good news first ... and the not so good buried ... as always. Rather like a very big bird ... head in sand. Or is that silicon?
High-Tech Execs Not Bugged By Year 2000 Fears
Most Silicon Valley elite won't take major steps to prepare
Benny Evangelista, Jon Swartz, Chronicle Staff Writers
Monday, May 3, 1999
)1999 San Francisco Chronicle
While the average Joe debates whether to hole up in a bunker with a stockpile of food and water in anticipation of the dreaded Y2K problem, Sun Microsystems chief executive Scott McNealy and other high-tech executives have more pressing matters.
``I will probably be asleep as soon as all three boys go to sleep (about 9:30) and will wake up and change Y2K-compliant diapers,'' McNealy said. ``(I) have no changes planned.''
Roy McDonald, president of software-maker Connectix Corp. in San Mateo, is traveling to Tecate, Mexico, for a ``spiritual retreat'' to learn what the new millennium means to him. McDonald plans to be atop a mountain watching dawn break on the next 1,000 years.
Most high-tech execs and computer experts polled by The Chronicle about their personal Y2K plans issued a collective shrug over the computer problem and blamed the media for doomsday forecasts.
The dismissive responses show that the captains of technology -- the industry most affected and most responsible for the Y2K problem -- are personally confident that the so-called Millennium Bug will be squashed.
``I consider (Y2K) a complete ruse promulgated by consulting companies to drum up business,'' said Jim Clark, co-founder of Netscape Communications Corp., Silicon Graphics Inc. and Healtheon Corp. ``I think the problem is way overblown. This is a good example of the press piling on. Y2K is the bogeyman.''
Oracle CEO Larry Ellison chuckled when asked if he was taking any special precautions, such as stocking up on food or avoiding airline flights on Jan. 1, 2000.
``No, no,'' he said, shaking his head with a big grin after delivering a speech to the St. Francis Yacht Club in San Francisco. ``Y2K is going to be a problem, but nowhere near the problem some people seem to think it will be.
``I will be ready, the company will be ready, and things will be OK.''
Even executives from the nontech fields of utilities and finance -- where Y2K breakdowns could have the gravest effect on consumers -- aren't overly worried.
Chevron Corp. CEO Kenneth Derr said he had no special Y2K plans, but doesn't want to be flying anywhere.
True, the captain of the Titanic was also confident that his grand ship was prepared to handle any emergencies.
Still, anyone who may be looking into buying a retreat in the mountains could at least take solace in the fact that so far, there's no Y2K panic at the top in Silicon Valley.
``I'm not concerned about it,'' former Netscape Communications CEO Jim Barksdale said. ``Actually, one of the biggest dangers we face over the next six months is the press hyping Y2K and turning it into a crisis situation for the public.''
``Worried? Not at all,'' said Robert Kotick, chairman and CEO of game developer Activision of Santa Monica. ``I think it's entirely invented by a division of Microsoft.''
But William Ulrich, a nationally recognized Y2K consultant, said the reactions aren't surprising since top corporate executives -- even those in high tech -- are too far removed from trying to fix the Y2K problem to become overly concerned about its potential effects.
``You get to a certain point in life where you think you're immune,'' said Ulrich, president of Tactical Strategy Group Inc. in Soquel (Santa Cruz County). ``The only thing you're really worried about is where your stock price sits.''
Those who work in the trenches of the Y2K problem tend to be more concerned. At a recent conference in New Orleans for Fortune 1000 chief information officers and Y2K project leaders, a poll showed the majority of attendees feared moderate to serious problems ahead.
Some chief executives may not want to admit they are personally worried to avoid possible legal conflicts with their company's official pronouncements on their state of Y2K readiness, Ulrich said.
For example, Microsoft representatives said chief executive Bill Gates would not comment any further than what the software company has publicly said about Y2K.
Ulrich, co-author of the book ``The Year 2000 Software Crisis: Challenge of the Century,'' isn't predicting the end of the world, but does expect Y2K to cause a series of problems, especially abroad.
``The people who least appreciate what's going on are the people who live in Silicon Valley,'' he said. ``Their world is OK, so the rest of the world must be OK.''
Then again, Y2K is ``a marvelous excuse to be sure you have your earthquake supplies in stock at your house,'' said Paul Saffo, director of the Institute for the Future in Menlo Park.
Excite co-founder Graham Spencer and Judy Estrin, chief technology officer at Cisco, are using Y2K to spur them into buying disaster supplies. Neither plan on traveling at the beginning of the year out of fear of scheduling snafus and delayed flights.
``I'm going to buy bottled water and canned food; I'll have extra batteries for flashlights and radios; and I'll probably withdraw some extra cash,'' Spencer wrote in an e-mail. ``I probably won't buy a backup generator; I'm definitely not buying a gun or moving into a bunker. :-).''
Still, others are treating Y2K as something more significant than a computer glitch. Cisco CEO John Chambers plans to spend the eve of the 21st century on Y2K duty with a technical crew at the San Jose company instead of whooping it up with New Year's Eve revelers.
``It's one of the few times the extremists have added value,'' Chambers said. ``I plan on working New Year's Eve with our engineers and support staff to make sure things go smoothly for our customers.''
Gordon Smith, CEO of Pacific Gas and Electric Co., spends the holidays in Hawaii every other year. Although the utility has devoted extensive resources to defusing any Y2K problem, Smith nevertheless is cutting short his holidays just in case anything crops up. When the new year begins, he'll be near PG&E's San Francisco headquarters.
``Personally, I'm planning to party like it's, well, you know,'' said Sunil Paul, CEO of Bright Light Technologies in San Francisco. ``But I might carry a spare flashlight with me, perhaps one that doubles as a party favor. Hey, that sounds like a business idea to me. The hysteria that has people hiding in bunkers in mountains is overdone. It's not the end of civilization. It's a computer bug.''
Others have priorities closer to home. ``My wife's gonna have a baby in six weeks. That's my Y2K,'' said Ed Dilworth, CEO of Arnold Ingalls Moranville, a Web advertising agency in San Francisco. ``I don't care about anything but that. The actual event in January -- pfft.''
Silicon Valley QUOTES ...
Not Afraid of the Dark
``I consider (Y2K) a complete ruse promulgated by consulting companies to drum up business. I think the problem is way overblown. This is a good example of the press piling on. Y2K is the boogie man.'' -- Jim Clark, co-founder of Netscape Communications Corp., Silicon Graphics Inc. and Healtheon Corp.
What, Me Worry?
``I'm not concerned that power will go out and planes will fall from the sky. There could be hiccups in international commerce, but not a complete meltdown.'' -- Internet co-founder Vint Cerf
``I'm not concerned about it. Actually, one of the biggest dangers we face over the next six months is the press hyping Y2K and turning it into a crisis situation for the public.'' -- Former Netscape Communications CEO Jim Barksdale
``It's one of the few times the extremists have added value. I plan on working New Year's Eve with our engineers and support staff to make sure things go smoothly for our customers.'' -- Cisco CEO John Chambers
HIGH TECH VIEWS ON Y2K
``I'm making sure I'm prepared to deal with power outages and phone outages. I believe people should prepare for it like they'd prepare for an earthquake. I'm not flying anywhere.'' -- Judy Estrin, chief technology officer, Cisco Systems
``It's definitely something that should be taken seriously. At the same time, the hysteria that has people hiding in bunkers in mountains is all overdone. It's not the end of civilization. It's a computer bug.'' -- Sunil Paul, CEO, Bright Light Technologies Inc.
What, Me Worry?
``I will probably be asleep as soon as all three boys go to sleep (about 9:30) and will wake up and change Y2K compliant diapers. (I) have no changes planned.'' -- Sun Microsystems CEO Scott McNealy
``Y2K is going to be a problem, but nowhere near the problem some people seem to think it will be. I will be ready, the company will be ready, and things will be OK.'' -- Oracle CEO Larry Ellison
``We have not one, but two, millennium bugs: one in our computer, the other in our culture. If computer alone, it is a relatively minor problem. Human irratationality exacerbates problems. The media needs something to fixate on after Monica, and it's Y2K.'' -- Paul Saffo, director, Institute for the Future
-- Diane J. Squire (email@example.com), May 09, 1999
Yep. I see it all the time. I work in one of the highest technology centers on the East coast, yet the amount of awareness around the shop is probably lower than in the mainstream public.
Technology is now God, and God cannot fail.
-- a (firstname.lastname@example.org), May 09, 1999.
Just picking out one of the above mentioned CEOs ...
Remember that February article where Sun Microsystems CEO, Scott McNealy, suggested stockpiling computers?
Who ya gonna trust?
http://www.idg.net/idg_frames/english/ content.cgi?idgnet_search=1&allowFeedback=false&url=http%3A// www.infoworld.com/cgi-bin/displayStory.pl%3F99021.eemcnealy.htm& return= http%3a%2f%2fwww%2eidg%2enet%2fcgi%2dbin%2fremote_search%2epl%3fqc%3d% 26qm%3d0%26st%3
Sun's McNealy: Stockpile computers for Y2K
By Nancy Weil
Posted at 8:53 AM PT, Feb 1, 1999
Asia is "disastrously behind" in dealing with year-2000 computer issues, so it's possible that the region's vendors will not be able to provide an adequate supply of components, leading Sun Microsystems' head Scott McNealy to make a suggestion that he confessed is self- serving.
"My recommendation is to buy lots of computers in the second half of this year," the chief executive officer, president, and chairman of Sun said during a press conference Monday at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
While governments and others versed in the potential problems caused by the year-2000 computer glitch have said that people ought to have cash reserves on hand and stockpile food, water, and other necessities, McNealy said, "given what we know about Asia, it might not be a bad idea to stockpile computers."
Most older software was written with a two-digit date field expected to read the "00" in 2000 as "1900" and therefore fail to make correct calculations. A wide range of predictions has been made regarding what will happen as a consequence, but McNealy said that anyone who wants to avoid problems obtaining components might want to consider having extra computers around just in case.
McNealy was hard-pressed to say why Asia has fallen so far behind. Perhaps the timing of the economic crisis there is a factor. But it's also possible that there are geographic and cultural issues. For instance, updated software generally is released later in Asia than in other regions, he said, urging the media to sound the alarm now because it's not yet too late for a turnaround in dealing with year 2000. ...
[snip -- to end]
-- Diane J. Squire (email@example.com), May 09, 1999.
All these guys they interviewed in "High Tech" are the LEAST qualified to talk about Y2K.
The main problems are in relatively "Low Tech" areas - aging mainframes and the like.
These guys, for the most part haven't worked for the Federal Government, or Military, or even state governments.
I've said for a year now, Silicon Valley people aren't worried because their experience is with *much* newer stuff.
'course since newspapers and people out of the software industry figure a computer is a computer - these people MUST know what's going on. So they'll see this, and assume all is ok in the world.
Jolly has worked on government computers AND the latest too.
-- Jollyprez (firstname.lastname@example.org), May 09, 1999.
Diane - thanks - great work - why am I not surprised at these maroons that have never worked in the real world (or out of the USA for that matter) in their lives.
The stupidity of these folks (and I know what I'm talking about as I worked in the valley with these simpleton know-nothings for six years) is truly awesome to behold.
Same goes for the VAST majority in SV- all sucked in by the greed and stock options and beemers a la carte - boy they are gonna come down HARD next year.
And it's a real shame as I have a bunch of otherwise extremely intelligent, gifted friends still working out there for the almighty greenback - totally oblivious to what is going down (and yes, I had many late night talks with them, to no avail).
-- Andy (2000EOD@prodigy.net), May 09, 1999.
Luckily, not everyone attached to SillyValley wears rose-colored glasses.
Ester Dyson and the valley ... go wa-a-a-a-y back.
Y2K Glitch Will Burst Internet Bubble
TechWeb News , May 04, 1999
NEW YORK -- The booming market for Internet-oriented stocks is coming to an end, said Esther Dyson, an Internet business guru, on Tuesday.
"Enjoy it while it's around," Dyson said at the Silicon Alley Breakfast Club, a New York networking association for new-media workers. Dyson talked about the speed of change in the industry, the changes that are coming in the domain systems, and policy issues.
"I'm on the board of a company that is doing so many deals that it can't do business," she said. "But, if someone wants to offer you $10 million to produce nothing, you can't turn that down," she said. "The industry is nuts -- too much is changing too fast."
The breaking point for Internet-enthralled investors will come in the new year, catalyzed by the year 2000 computer bug, Dyson said.
"I don't think there are going to be disasters, but just enough elevators will stop, causing millions of people to have bad days," she said. "There is going to be a change in sentiment, and people are going to notice most of these [Internet] companies are not making any money."
While Dyson sits on the boards of more than a dozen companies and has investments in another dozen, she is also engineering a major change for the Internet as head of ICANN, the Internet Corporation of Assigned Names and Numbers, the entity that is redesigning how the Internet domains are managed.
[snip -- to end]
-- Diane J. Squire (email@example.com), May 09, 1999.
I don't actually know what will happen; if much. But you seem to want an answer to the question that you have raised. I suggest boat trips. Float by Medina or Paul's compound on San Juan Island. Under those conditions I wouldn't worry either. Of course, I'm not all that worried; but then you can't float by my place; it's landlocked. Best wishes.
-- Z1X4Y7 (Z1X4Y7@aol.com), May 09, 1999.
GTC '99 Conference to Focus On Governor's Y2K Exec Order
SACRAMENTO, Calif. - The 13th annual Government Technology Conference returns to Sacramento this month focusing on Gov. Gray Davis' Executive Order on the Year 2000, D-3-99. ...
... John Chambers, Chief Executive Officer, Cisco Systems in one of the keynote speakers. ...
See thread ...
California Government Technology Conference will focus on Gov. Gray Davis' Y2K Executive Order (May 12 -14, Sacramento)
If Y2K is not a big Silicon Valley, et. al., deal, why is the CEO for Cisco Systems a keynote speaker?
(Z, just pointing out the inconsistencies. Self-interest, on the part of SV CEO's is a powerful motivator ... Y2K ... pro or con).
-- Diane J. Squire (firstname.lastname@example.org), May 09, 1999.
I am sure you will remember this from Feb. There maybe another referance in the letter fromt he California Senetor that wrote the open letter a month or so ago about Intel and international Y2K problems.
I am not sure if the topic of Fab plants having problems has come up on the board but that is a very serious problem. There were a couple of great articles on the topic last year.
Today's California Senate Hearing on Y2K
The representative from Intel, Rich Hall, said that there
is no one who knows the extent to which we will
suffer failures from y2k, and from his point of view,
the three most important problems were:
1. Asia: since California has extensive ties to Asia, we
will suffer from their lack of preparation, which he
says is at a Tier 4 on a scale of 1 to 4.
-- Brian (email@example.com), May 09, 1999.
I recall that. I'll do some more nosing around on Intel.
For the Asia situation, remember, the West Coast and Hawaii are the closest states to them. (Feeling slightly nervous after the Belgrade Chinese Embassey mistaken bombing too).
Will PNG's forcasted tsunami be more than economic?
-- Diane J. Squire (firstname.lastname@example.org), May 10, 1999.