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I just finished the Garner Bros latest incarnation of foolish wisdom, Rule Breakers, Rule Makers. I must say it is quite good. I was expecting a bit more redundancy from earlier works, which is common for this genre of book. My hat off to them for creating another informative, profitable and fun read.

That said, it is ironic how this relates to one of my favorite stocks. USWEB. It seems that if you have followed this stock for any time, or listened in on any of the conference calls, you know of Joe Firmage. This 28 year old multi millionaire is on his second fortune. I believe he was about 20 when he sold his first software company for 12 or so million to Novell. This guy is a rule breaker. He took a very pedestrian model of franchising and used it to become a monopoly. A monopoly? Find another Internet development company that is doing business with 44 of the fortune 100. Anyway, this guy had the vision to whether the storm and criticism of creating the “Kinkos” of the web. Along the way he lured 30 or more of the best and brightest web shops around the country to aggregate their clients, skills and entrepreneurship into a company that is over 2000 people to date. This guy was compelling enough to get those entrepreneurs to exchange their companies for paper, with the promise that an IPO was forthcoming. Forthcoming it was and suddenly the company has created a momentum and market share that is in my mind quietly socking away the percentage points. It keeps giving us EPS surprises, having become profitable a quarter before projected and now, with the merger of CKS it is retroactively profitable through the pooling of assets back to the day of the IPO.

Lately Joe Firmage has moved out of the company and on to bigger brighter (as in stars) venues with his claim of ET as a Technogeek that made our computers and networks what they are today. Call it crazy, but if you have heard this guy speak, you have only a couple of things to say. Brilliant, confident (cocky?).

Good luck Joe, and your vision is extraordinary, you are indeed a true Rule Breaker.

His last act as CEO was to put in place, someone I believe is the RuleMaker.

Robert Shaw, the new CEO of USWEB/CKS is clearly the right man for the job. Take a company that has a dominating presence in a not to well defined space and give it a strong charismatic leader who has been there and done that, and I think you have the making of a Fortune 100 company within a decade. Robert Shaw built Oracle's consulting business from a few hundred million to 2.5 billion and from a few hundred folks to 15,000 strong. This is exactly where USWEB needs to go. They have the inertia so critical to a rulemaker, but they the ability and infrastructure to sustain it over the long haul. Shaw can do this. My guess, in his sleep with one arm behind his back. Can he adapt to the Internet space? I think so, that of course is what we all look forward to that have invested in USWEB/CKS.

It is my bold prediction that if the Gardners get the chance to talk to the RuleBreaker and the RuleMakers at USWEB, they would have a conversation worthy of Henry V.

Of course, this is all just my humble opinion, but I am putting my money where my mouth is : )
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Longturm,

Thanks for the thoroughgoing note. You've certainly found a company that frames well with our criteria. USWeb has done very well since its '97 IPO. I will definitely take a closer look to see if we're looking at a Maker oncoming.

Thanks, Fool.

Tom
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