If such an award existed, the Paper Wealth Winner of the Week would be Steve Kim.

The chairman, president and chief executive of Xylan Corp. will become a billionaire when his company's acquisition by French telephone equipment manufacturer Alcatel is finalized.

Under terms of the agreement announced last Tuesday, Alcatel will pay the Calabasas-based maker of computer network switching equipment $37 per share. That's a 76 percent premium on the stock's value before the deal was announced.

Kim owned 3.3 million shares, or 7.7 percent of Xylan, as of a March 1998 proxy statement. After the sale is finalized, Kim's on-paper worth will translate to a cool $1.22 billion.

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Thanks to E-Trade and its brethren, the Internet has become a bastion for amateur investors and day traders. So far, however, veteran traders have been comparatively neglected.

Los Angeles-based Tradehard.com intends to change that and lock up the field as it does. Launched less than two months ago by a group of accolade-laden traders and money managers, Tradehard.com doesn't target amateur investors, but professional stock traders. It offers proprietary analysis and essential trading indicators and data in a bid to become the leading congregation site for its audience.

"We're targeting the type of people who read Investor's (Business) Daily religiously," said Larry Connors, company co-founder, hedge-fund manager, and author of three top-selling trading books. "To fully benefit from our site, you need to be an experienced trader."

According to Connors, Tradehard's enduring competitive advantage comes from it's A-list of co-founders and contributors, who include Robert Pisani, a Berkeley professor who developed the option pricing models now widely used today by traders, and Kevin Haggerty, former head of Fidelity Capital Market's equity trading.

"There is no where else that traders have access to and can learn directly from the top guys in their fields," Connors said.

The much-analyzed gender gap for online shoppers appears finally to be narrowing. According to BizRate.com, an L.A.-based Internet market research company, 34 percent of online shoppers were women in the fourth quarter of 1998, a substantial gain from the 24 percent figure in fourth-quarter 1997. Forty-seven percent of first-time e-shoppers were women in the fourth quarter of 1998.

Bizrate research also shows that the overall customer satisfaction level steadily decreased during the last year, reflecting online shoppers' increasingly sophisticated expectations.

"The industry is maturing, which means that the mentality has to shift from simply grabbing new customers to earning repeat customers' loyalty," said Bizrate Chief Executive Farhad Mohit. "And if your company isn't fulfilling the customer's expectations, someone else is."

Is the increase in shopping by women related to the decrease in customer satisfaction? Mohit declined to speculate.

Sara Fisher can be reached via e-mail at saramf@aol.com.

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