in this issue
Biggest number yet
variant CJH disease discovered
the cool choices with our special feature
actually cigarettes, say scientists
Ministry of Tourism and Culture to close
n Mouth decimates tourism and boredom thresholds
accidentally release new album
in Brief: Bono, Elvis Costello, Highlighters, Lack of Rioting, striking
freaked out by casual acquaintance
Gerald, Inc. Update
DOT.COM BILLIONAIRE BUYS THE WORLD A COKE
Silicon Valley's hippest luxury mansion resides a man whose generosity
has had him labelled as both "a fool" and "Jesus Christ
Mark Y2K". For Damon VonSpeer is about to live out a childhood dream.
He is about to buy the world a Coke.
"I remember, as a very young boy," he reminisces as he sits
on his Chippendale furniture, "I'd see that ad on the TV, you know,
all these pretty people singing 'I'd like to buy the world a Coke', and
I'd think, Yeah! I wanna do that! So, here I am."
indeed. VonSpeer (he's the guy on the left) is the founder/owner of the
world's largest and most successful e-logistics firm, ClickItThere.com,
employing over eight people world-wide. The company's instant success
on flotation eighteen months ago left him with a personal fortune somewhat
in excess of five billion dollars.
With a CV like that, a person faces a certain amount of scrutiny, and
VonSpeer (above right) has always seemed determined to cultivate that
scrutiny rather than avoid it. His publicity grabbing stunts include sending
a friendly e-mail to every PC user in America, and attempting (with no
success) to become the first ever "e-person" communicating entirely
through electronic media. Both these episodes were personally financed
by VonSpeer at a huge cost, but the bills pale in comparison to his latest
escapade, buying everyone in the world a drink of Coca-Cola.
I pay a lump sum of three billion dollars to Coca-Cola, who then organise
the distribution of one bottle of Coke to everyone in the world,"
says VonSpeer as he outlines his scheme. "It's gonna be a real kick.
Critics of VonSpeer's plan have pointed out that it would, in fact, be
much cheaper all round if VonSpeer were simply to buy the Coca-Cola Company
and distribute the Coke himself, rather than buying some 6.5 billion units
of that company's product. VonSpeer is dismissive of such objections,
however. "The song quite clearly says 'buy the world a Coke', not
give the world a Coke'," he says tersely. "Finicky? Perhaps,
but we're talking about a childhood dream here. It's got to be perfect."
Representatives of the Coca-Cola company were unable to say anything except
"Wooo-hooo!", with the exception of one ageing ad exec, who
said in a slightly croaky voice: "I knew... that ad... would pay
off....". Regardless of the folly and futility of the scheme, many
will be saying a hearty "Cheers!" to VonSpeer pretty soon. And
how does VonSpeer drink his Coke?
"Oh, I don't drink Coke," he says, sipping on a Perrier. "Bad
for your teeth."