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GORDON EUBANKS, the chief executive officer of Symantec, is leaving the company after 15 years to join an Internet start-up firm, Oblix. Eubanks, who bought Symantec in 1984, is often credited with creating the market for utility software, and was the guiding light behind Symantec's growth into a company worth $578m (pounds 366m), with more than 2,000 employees. Key acquisitions, such as Peter Norton Computing, helped establish the company, with Norton Utilities becoming the market leader in diagnostic, utility and software protection.

Competition and legal battles have had their impact on the company's profitability of late, but Eubanks is still widely seen as a charismatic Silicon Valley icon. The lawsuits, countersuits and lively shouting matches between Eubanks and Network Associates' Bill Larson are legendary. "In my younger days, he was a god of the software utility market,'' said Eva Chiang, chief technology officer for Trend Micro.

Eubanks's new company, which deals in Internet management software, was founded in 1996, has 65 employees and $14m in venture capital funding.


SOME OF the privacy groups petitioning the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) about the controversial processor serial number (PSN) built into the Pentium III chip last week prepared a supplementary document supporting their claim for an injunction against Intel distributing the technology.

The document argues that the chip technology, which lets web administrators track PCs across networks, makes it easy for stalkers to track and harass children, and that it will limit the free exchange of sensitive information. The document also claims that rather than adding extra security to enable e-commerce, the technology is open to "forgery" by hackers and that "online identity theft" and subsequent fraud is a real possibility. The groups originally filed a complaint on 26 February requesting an injunction, but the FTC, at an informal meeting two weeks later, asked for a supplemental document outlining the potential harm of the PSN.


UNIVERSAL MUSIC and BMG, two of the world's largest music distributors, said last week that they would launch an online music store to sell a catalogue of more than 250,000 CDs, including recordings on other labels, over the web. Using the resources of the record companies, getmusic.com will also create online fan clubs based on particular genres and artists where BMG and Universal products will be sold.

BMG already has set up a rhythm & blues site called Peeps.com, Bugjuice.com for alternative bands, and Twangthis.com for country music. More sites will be added. Getmusic.com could enjoy an advantage over existing online retailers such as CDNow and Amazon.com because of the closer ties that exist between their parent companies and the major recording artists. Initially, getmusic.com, whose owners have been hostile to the MP3 format, has no plans to include downloadable music on its site.


AL GORE last week caused amusement, bewilderment and consternation among those in the technological know when he proudly announced that his website, AlGore2000.com, is "open source". On the site's front page, the vice-president said: "This is your website - it's open source - and I want you to help us build it." Open source, however, is not just a buzzword, it refers to a method of software development where programmers are free to view and modify source code, and post improved software back to the community. Eric Raymond, of the Open Source Initiative, said of Gore's pronouncement: "Right now, we're amused."

Dan Gillmor, writing in the San Jose Mercury News, also saw the funny side but went further. "This is one of several occasions in the past few weeks that you've done something like this," he said in an open letter to Gore.

"You did more damage [last month] when you claimed credit for creating the Internet. Given your generally solid understanding of technology, that was beyond foolish. At least you backed off quickly from that gaffe. But if you want to win the votes of the lower-level people who actually create the technology, a sizeable contingent around here, you might consider a strategy other than filching buzzwords."