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Gloomy N+I Reopens

ATLANTA -- The Networld+Interop networking conference reopened here Wednesday to sparse attendance and major vendor pullouts prompted by yesterday's terrorist attacks.

Everyone's mind was focused on Tuesday's tragedies. John Roy, a technology strategist with Merrill Lynch & Co. Inc.'s (NYSE: MER) securities research department, gamely participated in a panel discussion at the end of a keynote address, despite concerns about his office and colleagues in New York.

"You almost have to block it out, if that's possible," said Roy, who flew to Atlanta from New York on Tuesday morning, before the terrorist attacks hit. Even though his office is in the World Financial Center in Manhattan - close to the collapsed World Trade Center towers - Roy said he believed keeping the show open was a correct decision.

"It doesn't do anyone an advantage [to cancel the event]," Roy said. "We need to keep doing what we do - it's critical, to keep the economy going."

Conspicuous by their absence were Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) and Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC), whose large show-floor booths were closed when the floor reopened Wednesday morning. A rescheduled keynote speech by Network Appliance Inc. (Nasdaq: NTAP) CEO Dan Warmenhoven attracted fewer than 200 attendees, reflecting the fact that many potential showgoers had already left town.

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