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In Silicon Valley's hippest luxury mansion resides a man whose generosity has had him labelled as both "a fool" and "Jesus Christ Mark Y2K". For Damon VonSpeer is about to live out a childhood dream. He is about to buy the world a Coke.

"I remember, as a very young boy," he reminisces as he sits on his Chippendale furniture, "I'd see that ad on the TV, you know, all these pretty people singing 'I'd like to buy the world a Coke', and I'd think, Yeah! I wanna do that! So, here I am."

Here indeed. VonSpeer (he's the guy on the left) is the founder/owner of the world's largest and most successful e-logistics firm,, employing over eight people world-wide. The company's instant success on flotation eighteen months ago left him with a personal fortune somewhat in excess of five billion dollars.

With a CV like that, a person faces a certain amount of scrutiny, and VonSpeer (above right) has always seemed determined to cultivate that scrutiny rather than avoid it. His publicity grabbing stunts include sending a friendly e-mail to every PC user in America, and attempting (with no success) to become the first ever "e-person" communicating entirely through electronic media. Both these episodes were personally financed by VonSpeer at a huge cost, but the bills pale in comparison to his latest escapade, buying everyone in the world a drink of Coca-Cola.

"Basically, I pay a lump sum of three billion dollars to Coca-Cola, who then organise the distribution of one bottle of Coke to everyone in the world," says VonSpeer as he outlines his scheme. "It's gonna be a real kick. I'm stoked."

Critics of VonSpeer's plan have pointed out that it would, in fact, be much cheaper all round if VonSpeer were simply to buy the Coca-Cola Company and distribute the Coke himself, rather than buying some 6.5 billion units of that company's product. VonSpeer is dismissive of such objections, however. "The song quite clearly says 'buy the world a Coke', not give the world a Coke'," he says tersely. "Finicky? Perhaps, but we're talking about a childhood dream here. It's got to be perfect."

Representatives of the Coca-Cola company were unable to say anything except "Wooo-hooo!", with the exception of one ageing ad exec, who said in a slightly croaky voice: "I knew... that ad... would pay off....". Regardless of the folly and futility of the scheme, many will be saying a hearty "Cheers!" to VonSpeer pretty soon. And how does VonSpeer drink his Coke?

"Oh, I don't drink Coke," he says, sipping on a Perrier. "Bad for your teeth."



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