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Tales from the Bubble Economy


2 May, 2000 Online business news service is looking decidedly shaky after its CEO James Cramer warned the company could "choke on losses" if it doesn't turn a profit before the cash runs out. Cramer also ruled out a new round of financing, admitting that the recent internet-stock fall has scared off investors. The company stock price - which hit $71 last year is currently resting around $6. Majority-owned UK operation,, insists its future is secure, according to Sunday Business

Yahoo is the most popular website in the UK, according to MMXI Europe. The company calculates readership in the same way as for TV stations - by recording the habits of 3,000 regular surfers - rather than the usual method of counting hits. and were counted as one site and beat other main UK portals and Freeserve.

Swedish m-commerce outfit Red Message has received $20 (£12)million funding, the FT reports today. The cash is to be used to expand operations and market its Web-site-to-mobile-phone text messaging service.

E-bucketshop will publish its interim results on Thursday. According to analysts, is not expected to make any black marks on its accounts before 2004.

27 Apr 2000 Tiny Online, the ISP arm of Tiny Computers is to launch an online auction site on Tuesday. Tiny Traders aims to host consumer and business auctions, and will charge sellers around three per cent of the final selling price in commission.

US-based G-Tech has taken a 6.5 per cent stake in Internet security outfit Indicii Salus for £5.9 million. Indicii is working toward a £450 million flotation later this year. G-Tech's claim to fame, or one of them, is that it provides the IT equipment for the National Lottery.

365 Corporation has bought text and telephone dating services company Teletalk for £6 million in a share and cash deal. Formerly owned by the FT, Teletalk had an MBO in 1997, and has clients such as The Glasgow Herald, the Yorkshire Post and Wolverhamption Express & Star. The deal will include £3 million cash and a further £1 million to be paid over the next two years.

EToys is considering spinning off its loss-making European arm to make way for more investment in its US business. The company is looking for another round of financing and US investors are thought to be unhappy with the European operation, which has lost $9.5 million since it set up in October, on sales of just $2.5 million., the UK web currency company, is to expand into the offline world with the launch of a beenz Mastercard. Beenz are earned by web surfers if they register on certain sites or buy certain goods from registered sites. These can then be used to buy goods online (although there are more sites that give you beenz than accept beenz as payment). With this announcement, however, beenz users will be able to convert the online currency into hard credit. In terms of figures, you can expect around 200 beenz to register with a company - equivalent to $1.

Microsoft, News Corporation and General Electric's NBC among others have invested in digital content distribution company iSyndicate. iSyndicate deals with news, comics, weather, games, audio and video digital content and bagged $55 million in the round of private financing. Last week, we announced that The Register had signed up to supply content to the company with the opening of its London office. plans to list on the Neuer Markt on June 7, the company said today. The subscription period is expected to run from May 25 to June 5. Robertson Stephens is co-ordinating the IPO. Financial details were not disclosed.

26 Apr 2000 - the start-up healthcare site named after the former US Surgeon General - is in dire need of new financing. The company said it only has enough money to last it to August and also announced losses almost double what analysts expected. Despite Drkoop being the second most-visited US health site on the internet, it has failed to get enough advertising. The company said its was looking at "strategic options" - one of which includes selling on and shipping out.

Controversy has hit the flotation of World Online on the Amsterdam stock exchange. The exchange went as far as threatening to stop the flotation altogether over concerns that "key shareholders were seeking to circumvent its rules and cash in their stock", today's FT said.

eBay is looking good, having reported higher first-quarter profits and doubled sales on a year ago. It should easily leapfrog its estimated revenue this year. The online auction site earned $6.3 million in profit on $85.8 million, compared with $4.8 million on $42.8 million first quarter last year. Its share price went up by just under 6 per cent on the news. The company also announced plans to split its stock 2-for-1 next month.

Online sales of household appliances are taking off for high street retailer Iceland. The company's Web site,, started selling fridges and freezers online earlier this year. It now claims 80 per cent of people logging onto the appliances section of the site end up buying a fridge or freezer. And a third of these purchases are by women.

Diamond Technology Partners Inc. is to buy London-based consultancy Momentus Group for £10m in its first acquisition outside the US. The company will be renamed Diamond Technology Partners Ltd.

Sports Webco Sportal is chatting to the TV broadcasters, Canal Plus, and other outfits regarding possible partnership agreements, according to the FT. Vivendi, Canal Plus owner, is interested in buying Sportal, which could command a price tag of £400m, according to reports in the Sunday papers.

Publisher EMAP has rebuffed a potential buyout from ISP Freeserve. "John Pluthero [Freeserve CEO] has been talking to everyone. But with Emap taking its content online itself, they asked themselves what exactly Freeserve had to offer, a source told today's Daily Telegraph. Last week Emap was the subject of speculation over a possible acquisition by Yahoo!

25 Apr 2000 Durlacher is damping down reports made this morning on the BBC's Today programme that it is pulling out of dotcom investments. A spokeswoman for the e-venture capital outfit said this simply wasn't the case, adding the Today programme probably got its story from the Guardian. But with a Guardian headline "'Realistic' Durlacher begins to retreat from website investment" it's understandable how Today may have picked up on the story. Indeed, the Guardian reports that Durlacher has decided to "pull back from future investments in business-to-consumer websites". And it quotes senior consultant at Durlacher, David Pannell, as saying: "We stopped investing in that kind business around Christmas unless it is a very compelling propositions." Put all this together and Durlacher's position seems fairly unequivocal. Wish the same could be said of a remark made by the Durlacher spokeswoman commenting on the story. "We are completely passionate about the opportunities presented by the convergence of technology, communications and media," she said. Everybody got that? Durlacher statement

Online business directory, Scoot, has confirmed today that it is negotiating to buy the free classified advertising business, Loot Ltd. Negotiations are at an early stage and a final decision whether or not to proceed with this transaction, which would cost Scoot upwards of £200m, will not be made until the beginning of June.

Online property database, Fish4homes, is to issue 20 per cent of its stock to estate agents -- worth some £6 million. Estate agents looking to take up the offer have to register before May 31 2000. Shares will be issued according to the number of branches within each chain. Estate agents won't be able to sell the shares for at least three years, the company said.

Softbank UK Ventures has teamed up with Nokia's venture capital fund to invest an initial £2.4 million in Riot Entertainment, a Finnish wireless entertainment publisher. Riot-E is the first investment from Web investment fund Softbank UK - last month the company set up two funds to buy into the Internet worth a combined $1 billion.

Stockcube, an investment research company looking to grow via the Web, will be valued at £24 million when it floats on AIM next week. It has raised £3.38 million before expenses following a placing at 25 pence. Stockcube specialises in price trend analysis for businesses, but wants to use the cash from the IPO to move into using the Internet to sell information to non-professionals at reduced rates. ®

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