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PointCast finds strategic investor – at last

Troubled push provider also drops Mac support

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Troubled 'push' software developer PointCast said yesterday it is close to winning the support of an unnamed strategic investor as it strives to turn a profit. The company also said it is dropping the Mac from the list of platforms it supports. Push technology emerged two years ago as a solution to so-called 'information overload'. Push pioneers developed applications to send Web-based information to users desktops rather than force those users to actively seek out that information. However, push largely failed to break into the mainstream -- to work efficiently, push needs a pervasive Internet connection, and few non-business users have access to one -- forcing Push companies like PointCast, Marimba and BackWeb to focus more on corporate information systems, and even there have met with limited success. PointCast itself is now turning its focus back to the mainstream in an attempt to cash in on the high-profiile Internet portal business, through its EntryPoint site. PointCast has been seeking a capital injection for some time. One option was an IPO, but the company pulled out in the summer. Last year, it attempted to find an investor or buyer, but that too failed to generate positive results, most notably the collapse of buyout talks with News Corp. in a deal rumoured to have valued the company at $400 million. That said, PointCast's IPO filing valued it at $250 million. PointCast yesterday claimed that the soon-to-be-signed investor was just one of dozens of potential investors keen to boost the company's finances in exchange for a stake. News of PointCast's decision to drop the Mac came in a letter to the company's information providers. "We have found that we cannot devote the resources required to deliver a quality service, especially one that services a very small portion of our viewers," said the letter. The company claims only five per cent of its 600,000 customers are Mac-based. On 1 December, PointCast will cease to make the Mac version of its viewer software available for download, with Mac-specific broadcasts coming to a close by the end of the year. ®

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