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Is Silicon.com up for sale, or not? The Register always thought the IT newservice was set up to be sold, but hacks working there say it ain't so. NMTV, the company that owns Silicon, merely wants secondary finance to fund (overseas?) expansion, is the line they're spinning. Well we heard different. VNU insiders say the company ran the slide rule over Silicon, but balked at the £35 million asking price. As far as VNU is concerned, too much of the valuation depended on the people working at the company, we understand. VNU might not be interested at that price, but someone will be: NMTV is a successful Web start-up which generates decent revenues. With the right backing, it could deliver a platform for explosive growth. Set up one year ago (Happy Birthday, guys) Silicon.com shows what can be achieved with big budget sales and marketing. And more important, what can be done with focused, sales and marketing. But what about the product? After a shaky start, the news service is now reasonably timely and middling good quality -- although a little too vanilla for our tastes. (That obsession with serving corporates always makes for a bland read -- and this applies to IT pubs everywhere.) Silicon has some good technology -- the Bladerunner personalisation and tracking technology, developed by former parent Cromwell Media, is well regarded by marcoms people for its ability to produce highly qualified sales leads. And Silicon's TV section is now stable -- at launch time, it kept crashing the machines of users who tried to log on. Silicon has also uncovered a highly successful revenue generator -- the microsite. In essence, this is a quasi editorial-style informercial for companies. The concept is so successful, that other Web-based IT pubs will surely follow suit. But not The Register. That really would be a step too far. ®

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