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Don't hold your breath - Handspring IPO filing only a statement of intent

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Handspring, the Palm-based handheld vendor formed by Palm founders Jeff Hawkins and Donna Dubinsky, is to IPO like... well... Palm. According to documents filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission filed on Friday, stock worth $300 million will be sold to the public. It should be noted that Friday's filing is really little more than a statement of intent, and the stock valuation simply a basis for the SEC's fee calculations, so quite how many share will be issued, when and at what price will not be known for some time. Still, such a move was always on the cards. Quite apart from Palm's move to go public, courtesy of former parent company 3Com, doing an IPO is really the only way a company's founder can become rich these days. We suspect, Dubinsky and Hawkins didn't do too badly out of Palm's sale first to US Robotics and then, via the modem company, to 3Com, and floating Handspring should add to their coffers. Lest that seem too meanspirited, it's worth remembering that the Handspring duo pretty much created the modern PDA market, pace Apple, and there's no reason why they shouldn't make a bob or two out of it. How much they will actually make remains to be seen. IPO watcher Jeff Hirschkorn, cited by CNET, reckons Handspring will have to get its e-commerce systems under control if investors are to become keen on the company. Possibly, but that may not matter too much now that Handspring's products are spreading out into the retail sector. And the order-taking glitches and shipping problems Handspring experienced towards the end of 1999 now seem to be behind it. Handspring is perhaps less likely to make as much of an impact as Palm did, simply because it's less well known. Again, the growing retail presence will help here, as will the formation of overseas subsidiaries - Handspring is in the process of setting up a European HQ right now. ®

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