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Beyond the Biz

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STEVE BALLMER, CEO OF MICROSOFT CORP., clearly has many talents, but he freely admits his fashion sense leaves something to be desired. "I am not a generally fashionable guy," Ballmer told the assembled audience at Microsoft and the Executive Council of New York's Executive Business Forum in New York last month. With his trademark enthusiasm, Ballmer told the audience, "But I've got my Tommy Hilfiger tie." That's because designer Tommy Hilfiger, along with his CIO, Eric Singleton, was among the customers at Microsoft's event speaking about how they use Microsoft software to drive their business. Unfortunately, the crestfallen CEO said that backstage, the designer had pointed out a glaring fashion faux pas. "The first thing he says to me is [that] I didn't have my collar buttoned down properly," Ballmer said. Recovering quickly, Ballmer added, "I'm still working on the fashionable side of my life, but in the meantime, I'm glad we can provide the technology to help them run their business better." A customer who took the stage after Hilfiger, Tim Huval, CIO of Bank of America, revealed his own true colors as a fashion wannabe when he admitted that one of the reasons he agreed to come speak to the audience about the bank's Microsoft experience was that, "I knew there was an outside chance I might score a Tommy Hilfiger tie." —Carol Krol

XEROX CORP. IS BETTING THAT PAIRING its new high-speed printing system with a high-speed custom motorcycle will steer customers in the copier's direction. The motorbike, built by bike designer Arlen Ness, will highlight many of the Xerox Nuvera system's features: quality, customization, speed and performance. The Xerox motorcycle, dubbed "Nu-Ness" (get it?), features a fine detail paint job with the kind of black-and-white contrasts, halftones and line work found in monochrome documents produced on Nuvera systems. "Our business philosophy is `always innovate, never imitate,' and the Xerox Nuvera system reflects the same kind of innovation," said Ness, in a statement. "This bike will draw attention on the road or wherever it goes." The Xerox Nuvera motorcycle will be used to stoke potential buyers at a variety of customer events, Xerox venues and possibly select bike events with Arlen Ness Motorcycles. Xerox Nuvera is designed for high image quality and fast speeds; three digital systems print at 100, 120 and 144 pages per minute. The printing systems can also be "custom-built" to fit customer needs to scan, feed and finish options that accelerate print productivity. —Matthew Schwartz

KABC, A LOS ANGELES TV STATION, rejected a TV ad from the Nevada Development Authority that encouraged California businesses to relocate to Las Vegas. The ad, featuring Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman, promotes Nevada's business-friendly climate with the tagline, "Quit working for peanuts. Reduce your business nut—come to Las Vegas." William Burton, VP-programming and advertising at KABC, told a local newspaper that the station is not anti-Nevada, but "we don't think we should be running an ad that tells our community here to get up and leave." Other TV stations in California ran the spot. —Kate Maddox

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