Milo takes the bait and joins the mega-corporate outfit, while the entrepreneurial Teddy continues to work in his garage."Why not make Synapse open source?" he asks Milo. When Teddy becomes the beneficiary of venture capital ("How much did you get? Eight fifty." That's $850,000 to the uninitiated.), their paths diverge along predictable lines.
Meanwhile Milo gets introduced to the ultra-lavish lifestyle of the computer mogul, and the temptations as well, including a kazillion dollar home with all the trimmings -- digital paintings that change to suit the aesthetics of the viewer. Gary Winston heaps more praise on the impressionable Milo. "It's not often we have a genius in the house," he says.
When Milo asks him straight out, "Can you get this done to meet your [launch] date?" Winston answers, "With you, I can."
Milo moves to be closer to the company "campus" bringing his girlfriend Alice (Claire Forlani) along, even while a sinister (are there any other kind?) Department of Justice bureaucrat threatens him implying that NURV is under investigation for "antitrust" violations. "If you see something thatrubs you the wrong way, do the right thing," he tells Milo. In other words, drop a dime.
"The Justice Department is driving me nuts," Winston says later. "Why are they after me?"
The cliquish cult-like atmosphere of the software company becomes more apparent as Milo learns of the death of his friend Teddy. Then the concept of "killer app -- software application with awesome qualities -- takes on a new and more sinister meaning.
Even though "AntiTrust" is meant to be tongue in cheek, it hints at a ruthlessness that lies just beneath the surface of mega-corporate business competition.
In fact, real life parallels to the movie prove that this type of criminal behavior is considered "business as usual." Or as the corporate-mobsters usually say, "It's nothing personal. It's just business."
In other words, computer software "visionaries" are, have been and will be targeted. Examples of corporate assault of this type include 1) Bill Hamilton of Inslaw, producer of the legendary PROMIS software, 2) Catherine Austin Fitts of Solari Inc, producer of Community Wizard software, and 3) Bryan Mundy of EzGov.com
Historically one of the most egregious examples is the case of Inslaw in which Department of Justice officials, acting under the aegis of Attorney General Ed Meese and former CEO of UPI, Earl Brian, actually stole an enhanced version of the PROMIS software from Hamilton's company, then resold it to numerous foreign governments including Canada and Israel.
Meanwhile the DoJ drove his company into Chapter 7 bankruptcy by withholding at least $1.6 million in payments due.
The subject of a Congressional Hearing and a report called "The Inslaw Affair" (House Report 102-857), this case even included a Federal Judge who chided the US Department of Justice for its criminal behavior. Since then, investigation has suggested that a modified version of the PROMIS software with a convenient built-in trapdoor has become the defacto standard in the global banking industry.
A book called "The Octopus" by Kenn Thomas (Feral House) goes into the spooky and convoluted details of the case, as well as the murder of reporter Danny Casolaro who evidently got too close for somebody's comfort.
Kelly O'Meara's article also updates the Promis story Insight Magazine
Financial software pioneer Catherine Austin Fitts, CEO of Solari Inc and the former head of Hamilton Securities Group, was also targeted through a series of phoney lawsuits and other harassment. Eventually she lost her home, millions of dollars in legal expenses and unpaid monies due on her contracts, as well as about $250 million in equity.
Fitts has also endured eighteen audits, numerous covert-ops black bag burglaries as well as physical harassment and an orchestrated Washington D.C. based smear campaign, which hasn't produced a single indictment or complaint in almost five years.
In fact, recently unsealed court documents reveal that Department of Justice lawyers brazenly lied in court, while they proceeded to prosecute a case they knew was based on false allegations. (See Gideon on Solari site:Solari
The Hamilton story has also been described in an article called "Bushwhacked: HUD Fraud, Spooks and the Slumlords of Harvard" Bushwhacked
Her company produced an innovative financial software called Community Wizard, a information management website tool which allowed users to map out how the money works at their local community level.
Hamilton also invented a totally novel auction software for HUD which enabled it to recover millions of dollars in lost revenues. This online disclosure system and optimization technology bid software for defaulted HUD loans evidently made insiders very unhappy and so the company was targeted for destruction by DoJ.
Chairman of EzGov Bryan Mundy wasn't as "lucky" as Bill Hamilton and Catherine Austin Fitts. Though his death officially appears to be an "accident," the circumstances are at least suspicious -- if not bizarre.
Before his death, Mundy was the founder of EzGov, EzGov an Atlanta based internet company which offered online payment of parking tickets, property taxes and other government fees.
(Parking tickets, by the way, have traditionally been a primary source for slush funds and covert revenue streams for public officials -- so who knows what Mundy was stepping into?)
EzGov had recently raised $32 million and had high profile politicians like Democratic former New York Governor Mario Cuomo and Republican former HUD Secretary Jack Kemp, as well as Elaine Kamarck, former head of Bill Clinton's Reinventing Government Program on its Board of Directors.
As a testimony to its success, EzGov had sold its technology to more than 60 governments. The high-profile Board of Advisors includes forner Georgia Senator Sam Nunn, retired chairman of Citigroup John Reed and former Republican National Committee Chairman, Haley Barbour.
According to news reports News Atlanta, "Mundy died in a house fire that went undetected by a faulty smoke alarm."
The article states that "Bryan Mundy, 36 chairman of the internet firm EzGov and a female companion died of smoke inhalation as flames shot thorugh Mundy's single story white brick house on Pelham Road in Midtown Atlanta just before 5 a.m..."
"Investigators were working to determine the cause of the fire. But they do not think foul play is involved, said Jolene Butts Freeman, a spokewoman for the Atlanta Fire Department..."
"When firefighters arrived, Freeman said fire was shooting from the roof near the chimney and through the living room window near the front. Mundy and his companion were found on the kitchen floor, near the sink, said Freeman..."
"Investigators don't know whether the two were trying to escape the fire or fight it, Freeman said. 'It's kind of weird,'she said. 'We really don't know what they were doing.'"
"Mundy had lived in the house four years, neighbors said. Shortly after Mundy bought the house, Trammell said it was the scene of an attempted arson which occurred during a string of 18 arsons in the neighborhood. A man was charged and convicted in the arsons which authorities said were unrelated to Monday's fire."
Was it anti-yuppie anti-gentrification backlash? Or an "accident"? Or a "signal" to EzGov's prestigious Board of Directors about the company's ambitions?
EzGov was facing competition from a number of companies including GovWorks, GovWorkswhich also expects to close soon on another large round of funding.
GovWorks Board of Directors include Big Business heavyweights Henry R. Kravis, of Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, Maynard Jackson, the former three term mayor of Atlanta and Joel Hyatt, founder of Hyatt Legal Services. GovWorks Board of Advisors includes former Salt Lake City Mayor Deedee Corradini, former Denver Mayor Federico Pena and former Wyoming Senator Alan K. Simpson, director of the Institite of Politics at Harvard University.
Should the Chairman-Founder of GovWorks, Kaleil D. Isaza Tuzman, a Harvard graduate and former Goldman Sachs associate, be on the watch for "accidents" too?
If the life and death of his former competitor Bryan Mundy is any indication, the answer is a resounding "yes."
Key man insurance, anyone?
The movie "AntiTrust" posits a ruthless world of cut-throat competition. But are software pioneers really at risk in the Real World?
If you're working on proprietary software which challenges the status quo and its systems -- or if it promises a really new solution -- you'd better count on it. Just make sure that all your "risk management" and "security" protocols are totally in place.
Your company's life -- and even your own life -- may ultimately depend on it.
Copyright 2001 Uri Dowbenko. All rights reserved.
Uri Dowbenko is the CEO of New Improved Entertainment Corp. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org