Friday, September 15, 2000

The Cyber Scene in San Francisco ~ By Sam Cacas

All Was Hot at the Silicon Spot

By way of introduction, I am your new San Francisco columnist. My
name is Sam Cacas. My last three years on the planet have involved
several contract stints -- some ongoing -- as a writer for several
dotcoms, including The New York Times College Program, epinions,
cliffsnotes, marketmakters, eTranslate, Signet Assurance, and
iMinorities. Before this period of digital writing, I was a
journalist for Asian Week, a Legal Assistant for NASD and a legal
researcher for a law book publisher. I have also been published in
American Demographics, Human Rights, Advertising Age, Revolution
(yes, the online/print marketing magazine owned by Haymarket), among

In this column, you can expect to read about the people I meet at
 San Francisco net happenings, including the Silicon Spot,
Craigslist parties, the Industry Standard's roof parties,
conferences, seminars and similar venues. Also, I intend to be a
pundit of real issues attendant to the dotcom community, including
affordable housing, the digital divide in all its manifestations --
from net access to equal employment, digital signatures, privacy,
cybersquatting, transportation, SOHO (small office home office)
concerns, copyright, and of course the latest new, new thing.

For my first engagement as your humble pundit, I chose the monthly
"Silicon Spot" held at the Millenium night club in this city's
fashionable North Beach section. Vivian Towe, associate director of
the Boston-based Silicon Spot, served as MC for three promising net
companies: ibart, creative good and webquarters.

Chris Sweis, CEO of, gave the most brow-raising pitch
of the evening for his Illinois-based electronic barter portal,
which allows businesses to leverage their excess production,
capacity, services or inventory to acquire other goods and services
without the exchange of traditional currency. Except for his opening
"I love Rice-a-Roni" comment, Sweis's toastmaster skills drew the
noisy crowd's rapt attention. He walked his talk -- wireless mike in
hand -- between the stage and the bar at least three times, letting
drinkers as well as fund managers - mulling his request for round C
money - know that ibart's barter currency is recognized by the IRS.
It has also been dispensed as venture capital to dot coms for
anything from copy machines to display ads.

Lori Wasserman of then promoted the Livermore-based
company, which offers what she called "affordable affinity messaging
solutions to consumer-focused web sites of all sizes, who promote
community, commerce and consumer goods." People seemed to get the
point when she mentioned one client,, which many in
the audience told me afterward they know all about.

Anyone waxed for nostalgia at a very nostalgic venue. We're talking
the same blocks where the beat poets and Jack Kerouac hung out the
'60s. They got their fix when Tony Berkley, director of content &
communications for took the stage to swirling
strobe lights and the Ohio Player's '70s hit "Fire" blaring away.
Your humble pundit was popping fingers and thinkin' back to when

Berkley described his site as "the first comprehensive
entertainment, information and commerce network in the online
nostalgia space." The audience seemed more convinced about that line
than Tony's dancing. "Can you still do the bump?" said a lady
sitting next to me, while I was thinking more of the New Jack Swing.

Seen and heard at my first and not last Silicon Spot event were Lori
McLeese, marketing manager of CMP Media. She spoke about the Web2000
conference/expo (more at that will be held at
the Moscone Center from October 30 to November 3. Andrew Kaplan,
associate of the online real estate brokerage king CB Richard Ellis,
inc., also spoke, as did two UPN Networks bigwigs: Shane Corliss,
business development manager of global enterprise service provider
UPN Networks, and Louise Collie, marketing manager. As you may not
already know, UPN's SOMA (South of Market for all you non-San
Franciscans) facility is available. Besides the lightest of light
chit-chat, Louise related to me that the second collocation facility
of UPN will be available soon.

In closing, I'd like to invite your comments, newsworthy virtual
gossip as well as input into the following issues I'll be writing
about soon: the affordable housing situation in San Francisco, the
hiring of H-1B immigrant workers by dot coms, legal verification of
online contracts, and the digital employment divide. Hit me at