A look back: Eric Schmidt at Novell's Brainshare 1999

Originally published in ‘Net Buzz (print) on March 29, 1999

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The recent demise of Network World's print edition took into history with it my back-page column called 'Net Buzz, which I had written for 14 years. In remembrance, I've begun posting weekly samples from the early archives. Here we have a column about Novell's user conference, BrainShare, a few years after Eric Schmidt had joined the company as CEO and begun transitioning it into the Internet Age. An except:

But can Novell walk this walk? Although he probably didn't appreciate being accosted while slurping up a gooey pastry between BrainShare events, Schmidt did spend a few minutes chatting with Buzz about what it will take to transform his company into an Internet player.

"I think you have to earn it," he said without a trace of that John Houseman accent. "We have to have Lightweight Directory Access Protocol directories on the 'Net that do interesting things. We're doing that with digitalme."

Digitalmaybe. The concept sounds useful enough, as digitalme would allow individuals to securely store and granularly control information about their online selves -- user names and passwords, e-mail addresses and credit card numbers -- with a trusted third party, perhaps a bank or an ISP. You decide who gets to see what through the use of digital "meCards." Novell wins by highlighting the scalability of NDS and by becoming known as the company that tamed the Wild Wild Web.

Of course, Schmidt went on to make the single greatest career decision of all-time and Novell became, well, let's not go there.

You can read the entire column here.

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