Opinion

Thought for the day: Silverstream lining for Novell?

Hard-hitting IT commentator Dr Simon Moores gives his personal take on the hot issue of the day.It was more of a whisper than a bang. Net business specialist Novell has bought Silverstream Software - one of the dotcom era's bigger bangs - at a generous $9 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 Red Hat, 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 competition.

With hindsight - rather sensibly, I think - I chose to put all my winnings into a large virtual yacht, weeks before the Internet bubble burst. Today, the value of my carefully chosen portfolio of technology "winners" would probably stretch to a new Mini.

Silverstream soared from $25 to $126 in the space of a couple of months before creeping back down to $70 and then $40. 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 likes of BEA, IBM and Sun in a market that just didn't want to know about technology stocks.

Once the value of the stock dropped below $10, I lost interest in the few hundred pounds my original stake was now worth and came across news of the Novell acquisition this week only by accident.

Novell was, not so long ago, deriding Web services. But memories are short, it seems, and now it plans to compete with IBM, Sun and Microsoft for a share of tomorrow's promised multibillion 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 that 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. It's 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?

Did anyone ever get rich from technology stock? >> CW360.com reserves the right to edit and publish answers on the Web site. Please state if your answer is not for publication.

Zentelligence Setting the world to rights with the collected thoughts and ramblings of the futurist writer, broadcaster and Computer Weekly columnist Simon Moores.

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This was first published in June 2002

 

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