23:38 PM

Newswatch: Monday, 8/21/06

By Richard Koman for SiliconValleyWatcher

The Chronicle profiles Metro-Fi, which has built a huge Silicon Valley free wireless network, covering most of Santa Clara county. The question is is there a business model in free? Metro-Fi CEO Chuck Haas says there is:

"There is no proven Wi-Fi model yet, but we believe free is the best. Everyone loves free. You don't have to pull out your credit card if you just want to use your laptop," said Haas. "If you're on for an hour at Starbucks, our incremental cost is zero. We may have made only a dime or a quarter off of you, but do that many times and you can see that's a good business model."

... Salesforce.com clears 500,000 subscribers as revenues rose 64% in Q2. The company still took a $1.3 million loss for the quarter. Reports Silicon.com: Ovum analyst David Bradshaw said Oracle, Microsoft and SAP don't "seem to be casting any shadows on Salesforce.com's field" and the software as service model "continues to attract ever more customers, forcing everyone in the CRM market and beyond to take this business model increasingly seriously."

... The day after Integrated Silicon Solutions announced it would not file its quarterly report because of stock options questions, investor Bryant Riley bought up almost 200,000 shares, as the price slipped nine percent. Now, with 12 percent of the company in his hands, the Mercury News reports, Riley is moving to remake the board. Riley wants to get rid of five board members, replace them with himself and two others, and cut the size of the board by two.

... Google insiders have dumped some $7.4 billion since Feb. 2005, Bloomberg's Mark Gilbert notes. Larry Page has realized about $2 billion and Sergey Brin $1.9 billion. Eric Schmidt has only cashed out $650 million. Not a single share has been bought in that time. Gilbert thinks the insider selling has been a major factor in Google's declining share price. Forget about fundamentals, he says. The question is, do Larry and Sergey have enough walking-around money yet?