San Diego During the late dot-com stock-market boom, the once high-flying stocks owned by Padres owner John Moores and his JMI Equity venture capital investment company were the envy of the high-tech world and helped Moores become one of San Diego's most sought-after philanthropists. Instead of cash, Moores would simply hand out shares of stock in his various start-up companies that had gone public and soared to rarified levels. For instance, records show that San Diego State University got at least $4 million worth of stock in Peregrine Systems and promptly sold it to pay for new sports facilities. Moores was also said to be counting on his enormous stock hoard to fund his part of the proposed downtown baseball stadium. But those days are long gone. All of the firms listed on the JMI Equity website have been hard hit by the plunging market, some even becoming penny stocks. On Monday, Neon Systems, the Texas software maker that figured prominently in the downfall of San Diego ex-city councilwoman Valerie Stallings, was $4 a share. A year ago it had been $12. Stallings, who had gotten her shares as a result of a tip from Moores just before the public offering in March 1999, sold them a month later at $50 a share. Another Moores favorite, his Del Mar Heights-based Peregrine Systems, was $11.87 on Monday. In June it was $34. Smaller Moores-related companies, including Ebenx, Inc., Metagroup, Inc., V-One Corp., and Bindview Development Corporation, all software or Internet-related issues, have also taken huge hits. On Monday, Ebenx was at $3.50, well down from its $15 peak last November. Metagroup had sunk to $2; it had been at $12 a year ago. V-One was just 95 cents; earlier this year it had been at $3.95. And Bindview Development suffered the biggest percentage fall. On Monday, it was 93 cents a share; in January, it had been almost $12.
Shifty-eyed La Jolla's Sapien Systems has told the Washington Post that it has come up with a way to spot potential hijackers by screening their eye movements using equipment installed at airport security check-points. "You look for signs over which people really have no control," the company's Erik Viire told the paper. "If the person matches the indicators, a red light would come on." But there might be a hitch, he notes. "This could capture all kinds of things -- somebody totally afraid of flying, or drunk, or potentially violent." ... Tightened security at Jimsair, the private airline terminal on Lindbergh Field, has forced guests arriving on private jets to walk 30 yards or so to their waiting limousines. In the past, their private cars pulled right up to the airplane doors but they are no longer being allowed onto the tarmac ... Standard & Poor's, the bond-rating agency, has put all of the nation's airport bonds, including those sold to finance Lindbergh Field's expansion, on its credit-watch list, pending further evaluation of the downturn in air travel ... Retired Army general Wayne A. Downing, a member of the board at La Jolla's super-secret defense contractor Science Applications International Corp., will become President George W. Bush's personal anti-terrorism advisor and a member of the National Security Council, according to the New York Times.
Goings and comings Former San Diego city manager Ray Blair, said to be ailing, is ending his term on the state's alcoholic beverage license appeals board ... Mary L. Walker, ex-partner of San Diego's Brobeck, Phleger and Harrison, will be named general counsel of the Department of the Air Force, the White House has announced ... Business Week reports that Clear Channel Communications, the giant radio chain that owns nine stations and 829 billboards in San Diego County, is being sued for anti-trust violations by Nobody in Particular, a Denver concert promoter. "Clear Channel uses the leverage of their radio stations to intimidate groups to play [concerts] for them," Jerry Michelson, a partner at Chicago's Jam Productions, told the magazine. Added John Scher, a director of Metropolitan Entertainment Group, "It's an awesome task to compete against a company that controls most of the music radio in a market. Consolidation has left the industry in a less healthy state."
Contributor: Matt Potter