DID YOU HEAR? . . .
"It was probably the biggest disappointment I had in years of economic development [work] because it seemed so winnable."
-- Richard Monteilh, former D.C. economic development official, on losing MCI WorldCom Inc. operations to Loudoun County.
Tracking a Hacking
Plenty of lawyers have been called hacks, but lawyers at Steptoe & Johnson are among the first to be called hackers.
Seeking more than $800,000 in damages, Moore Publishing of Pennsylvania sued the blue-chip Washington firm for allegedly trying to sneak into one of the company's Internet domains. The lawsuit, filed last week, alleges that someone at Steptoe -- they're not sure who -- tried to hack into the site eight times in August.
"The attempt did not display the mark of genius," said Rodney Sweetland, the Arlington solo practitioner suing on Moore's behalf. "Whoever did this knew something about hacking, but not enough to cover their tracks."
Steptoe officials say the suit is completely baseless and that they'll fight it vigorously. The firm has already rebuffed an overture to settle the matter out of court.
Sweetland claims that computer logs will prove his case, but he offered only a sketchy explanation of Steptoe's possible motives. Moore's primary business is digging up electronic data for companies conducting asset searches, but it has a sideline as a cyber-squatter. It has purchased the rights to the Internet domain names of a handful of law firms, apparently hoping to resell those rights at a later date. Among the names it owns: Steptoejohnson.com.
Still, it's unclear why any Steptoe employee would care. The firm already has a Web site at steptoe.com.
-- David Segal
A Sky Box Lunch
Have you ever dreamed of watching a Redskins game from your own corporate luxury suite at Redskins Stadium, without having to brave the mash of sport utility vehicles trying to beat you there?
A local restaurateur has gone long betting that you have. He believes companies and well-heeled individuals will spend up to $12,000 to rent a "sky box" that's nowhere near Redskins Stadium. The owners of Willie & Reed's sports restaurant in Bethesda have prepared two "luxury booths" inside the restaurant that companies can lease during the football season. Perks include a private television, a personal server, free meals and on-the-house drinks. The chef will create special dishes to "accommodate any wish or need."
So far, no one has signed on. But co-owner Mike Wilson believes people will grab the opportunity to "feel like a celebrity" while avoiding stadium traffic jams and sky box costs of up to $225,000 a season.
-- Stephanie Stoughton
New on the Roster
A local e-commerce company has added some well-known local firepower to its slate of directors. Oddly named telezoo.com, a trading site for telecommunications products and services, nabbed Digex-founder Doug Humphrey and former technology newspaper executive Esther Smith for seats on the board.
Humphrey is best known these days as the chief executive of SkyCache Inc., a Laurel satellite Internet broadcasting company, and is highly sought after to bless struggling start-ups with good ideas. Smith founded Washington Technology, a local industry newspaper, before she sold it to The Washington Post Co.
-- Terence O'Hara
Bell Atlantic Video, the Reston-based satellite television subsidiary of the telecommunications giant, polled 632 viewers in Boston, Pittsburgh, New Jersey, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia and Baltimore comparing pay-per-view ordering habits. While entirely unscientific, some strange associations did emerge.
Among the results:
Nearly half of all pickup truck owners said they order foreign films, while only about one quarter of BMW owners said they do.
Almost 40 percent of viewers who ordered pay-per-view professional wrestling said they were registered Republicans.
Accountants were the most likely to watch pay-per-view movies in the nude (35 percent of nude watchers being accountants), while doctors came in second, with 12 percent.
Surely Bell Atlantic had business reasons for doing the survey, not to find out weird facts about its customers (and get some publicity doing it). But real consumer behavior analysis isn't nearly as fun.