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Tuesday December 7 4:16 PM ET
High-Tech CEOs Face Dull New Year's
By MARTHA MENDOZA AP Business Writer
SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) - Cisco Systems CEO John Chambers can forget the sparklers. Hewlett-Packard president Carly Fiorina can keep her champagne corked. And Microsoft president Steve Ballmer will be leaving his tuxedo in the closet.
Top executives at Intel, AT&T and other high-tech companies will be ringing in the year 2000 this New Year's Eve at their offices.
``We'll have about 20,000 employees at work when midnight comes,'' said Hewlett-Packard's Brad Whitworth. ``And I don't think we'll have champagne. There will be time to party later.''
High-tech companies have spent the past few years and billions of dollars working to prevent Y2K crashes when computer systems roll over from 1999 to 2000. Corporate executives say they are fairly confident these measure will prevent major problems, but they are taking no chances.
Whitworth said HP president Fiorina will be spending at least part of
her New Year's Eve at the company's Y2K command center, a huge,
wired conference room backed with generators and stocked with bottled
water and emergency supplies at corporate headquarters in Palo Alto.
Thousands of AT&T employees - barred from leaving town between Dec. 15 and Jan. 15 - are also preparing to spend their New Year's Eve watching digital networks and standing by in ``SWAT teams'' at the company's Basking Ridge, N.J., headquarters and other installations around the world.
Spokesman Dave Johnson said that the New Year's Eve workers will be well-fed but that the only bubbly flowing will be soda.
That is also the case at computer chipmaker Intel in Santa Clara, where staff members will be standing by at a command center.
At Dell Computer, headquartered in Round Rock, Texas, spokeswoman Adrianne Macpherson said staffers are also looking forward to ``another boring night at Dell.''
Macpherson said she doesn't expect CEO Michael Dell to be there, but he will definitely be available to help should problems arise.
At Cisco Systems, it's not just the lowly workers putting in the late shift. CEO John Chambers himself, whose policy of leading by example has led him to fly coach class, eat cafeteria food for lunch and push the hot dog cart at company parties, will spend his New Year's Eve at Cisco's San Jose headquarters answering customer calls.
``This is a big deal that happens once in a lifetime, and were taking it very seriously,'' spokesman John Earnhardt said. We're not planning to have a festive atmosphere.''
That's not the case at Microsoft headquarters in Redmond, Wash., where 300 programmers, developers and managers will be standing by in case of trouble - and spending the evening partying with president Steve Ballmer.
``We didn't think it would be good for morale to have them just sitting around waiting for something to happen,'' said Don Jones, Microsoft's director of Y2K readiness.
Microsoft will supply champagne and dinner, a disc jockey and child care will be provided, spouses are welcome, and time capsules will be given out.
Chairman Bill Gates will be spending the evening with his family, but Ballmer and other top executives will be playing host - in typically casual attire - through the midnight shift.
Jones said party invitations have been a hot item.
``We had to turn people away,'' he said. ``Where would you rather be than Microsoft on New Year's Eve?'' _ _ _ _ _
-- rickjohn (email@example.com), December 08, 1999
Valley's New Year's Mix: Work And Play; High-Tech: Workers On Y2K Duty To Be Offered A Fun Atmosphere -- Minus Booze (San Jose Mercury News )
-- Diane J. Squire (firstname.lastname@example.org), December 08, 1999.