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Party like it's 1999

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I was dreamin' when I wrote this
So sue me if I go too fast
But life is just a party
And parties weren't meant to last

   --Prince "1999"

Email payment service PayPal went public Friday and enjoyed the sort of first-day pop we haven't seen since the neurotic-joy days of 1999, when investment bankers got rich cashing out their IPO allocations, and you got poor by taking the hypertrophied shares off their hands a week or two later.

Coming out of the blocks at $13, the shares blossomed 55 per cent Friday to close at $20.09, bequeathing the company a $1.2 billion market cap under the professional guidance of Salomon Smith Barney.

And this in spite of being sued for copyright infringement by security outfit CertCo, and getting a jolt from Louisiana regulators who have stopped PayPal doing business in their state without a proper bribe license. Not to mention losing $265 million over the past three years, and never once turning a profit, but that's par for the course.

Those lucky fatties with their IPO allocations will of course make their guaranteed quick-cash just like in the old days, because in a week or two they'll be unloading the pumped-up shares on the aftermarket where you get to buy them, just like in the old days.

And of course you know what happens next. ®

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