Still Vanity Fare

Zap-ping Wordand Charged

Fitting for the biggest edition yet of the world's biggest Internet conference. With over 650 companies showing off their latest wares and an estimated 50,000 visitors collecting reams of useless pamphlets, papers, and little cardboard displays, "This has definitely been the best conference yet," said Barry Schwartz, who handles public relations for Mecklermedia, the Silicon Alley online media company that sponsors it. "We've already sold out space for next year's conference."

That's because New York is edging out California as the Internet capital simply because person-to-person networking is easier here than in the wide, wide West. According to one industry reporter, "It's the deals, the handshakes, the small meetings, the stuff you don't see that happens here all the time." On Wednesday you could catch Valley luminaries such as Oracle's Larry Ellison and Sun's John Gage sharing their billion-dollar wisdom with a room full of eager CEO wannabes. Netscape's Jim Barksdale yucked it up with Governor George Pataki on the following day--the candidate was on hand to sign a new bill that indefinitely waives taxes on Internet commerce in New York State. And unlike other Internet conventions, this one actually makes money. "We don't pay the house anything," says Schwartz. "Everyone who's here paid to be here and really wants to be here."--Edmund Lee

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