Net Finance News: 16-23 Sept 1999
Amazon has been wooed by the peal of wedding bells. The Web-based bookseller is to acquire a 20 per cent stake in the online wedding pressie outfit Della & James. It is one of a congregation of companies chucking $45 million at Della & James as if it were confetti.
AIM-listed On-line PLC and GlobalNet Financial (GLBN) have cemented a new relationship by confirming a £250,000 mutual share swap. The agreement follows news that the one-time gaming software company is using its 3D skills to bring a new breed of stock market visualisation tools to GlobalNet Financial's UK-Invest site.
The London Internet Exchange (LINX) is one of the top five Internet Exchanges in the world -- and Europe's number one -- after traffic levels hit one gigabit last week. This landmark figure shows an increase of 455 per cent on last year.
The Alliance & Leicester is to offer full online banking from January 2000 after successfully completing trials for the service. The service will be available to all of A&L's two million customers.
22 Sept 1999
UK ISP Onyx Internet has been bought by PGExpress, a wholly owned subsidiary of Pacific Gateway Exchange. Onyx has 3,000 small business and home customers, and turns over £1m per annum. Terms were undisclosed.
X-Stream Network, the UK’s first free ISP (no it wasn’t Freeserve), is striking deeper into Viking territory. The company is setting up shop in Sweden, complementing its new operation in Norway. For Sweden, X-Stream has secured a distribution deal with ONOFF, Sweden’s leading consumer electronics retailer. This will see ONOFF promoting X-Stream sign-up CD-ROMs in its 66 stores until Christmas. Already committed to advertise with X-Stream Sweden are Amazon.co.uk, Audiostreet, DVD Street, Alphabet Street, Games Street and Ritz Casino.
Voss Net, the AIM-listed free ISP, is raising £630K net by underwritten 1-for-3 open offer of 1.3 million new ordinary share at 60p per share. It will use £120K to repay loans and improve working capital, and the rest will go on sales and marketing. Voss Net is a highly niche player, targeting schools and charities.
NTL, the UK’s biggest cable operator, is prepping the launch of video on demand for the middle of next year. The company will deploy VoD technology from Diva, whch will see the service pumped through customers’ existing set-top boxes.
Fortunecity.com has added premium (i.e. paid-for) options from efax.com. The community site’s 2.3 million members can already use efax.com free services.
Consumer heavyweights race to build UK women's portal
21 Sept 1999Freeserve shares drop below offer price
QXL scales down IPO expectations
Fine Art Developments, a UK mail order company, has announced a £2 million investment in a free ISP, and online store. The new venture, being touted as a competitor to Freeserve, will be called care4free, and is due to launch on 13 October. Strangely the chairman, David Johnson, is keen to play down the online element of his business. "We are not cannibalising what we have already got," he said. "We are a real company going virtual." Revenue generated from the site will be donated to 30 charities whose catalogues FAD prints and distributes. Shares in the company rose 14 pence on the back of the news.
Students in US colleges are being given a huge incentive to get online, withoncampus.com
offering to pay up to 25 per cent of any money spent with the company's partners, back in cash. The group already counts 40 of the best performing web sales site among its partners, and is planning to add more as the year goes on. Students sign up with oncampus.comhere
and get an oncampus.com email address which can be used when shopping online. The email ID guarantees the right payback at the end of each semester. This is not a totally selfless gesture. Chairman Mark Charnock commented: "One thing we've learned from more than 10 years in talking with college students is that they want real tools for their everyday lives," said Charnock. "And they're only willing to start lifetime relationships with companies that provide those tools." In other words: get 'em while they're young.
20 Sept 1999
Shares in eBay fell 7.1 per cent this morning amid fears that the leading online auction house could come under serious threat from a new networked scheme from Microsoft, Dell and others.Bloomberg
said eBay experienced its biggest one-day drop in six weeks.
OFEX-listed Icollector PLC has raised £8 million following a placing of 1.1 million shares at 720p per share with Lehman Brothers International, GLG Partners and Schroder Investment Management. The proceeds of the private placement will be used to fund working capital requirements. The online auction house also said it had appointed Lehman Brothers to act as its financial adviser.
Scoot.com plc has teamed up with Zoom to offer its own brand of targeted consumer information to the online retailing arm of Arcadia.
Freeserve is to start selling motor, home and travel insurance online next month as part of a JV with GlobalNet, Cox Insurance Plc, and Harrison Son Hill & Co.
Supermarket giant Tesco is dipping more than its toe into the surf after announcing it is to launch a number of "cyberzones" designed to let customers order goods that aren't on display in its stores. Among the items on offer will be electrical items, books and CDs. Fiver says Amazon starts selling baked beans within a month…
Anil Gupta -- the 56-year-old whiz kid behind games company Anco -- is reportedly set to sell his soccer game Player Manager Online to five ISPs.The Times
estimates it could generate more than £3 million in talks in the UK alone -- and more than £100 million if it is rolled out globally.
Some British bright spark has developed an online auction site catering for the needs of the lighting trade. Believed to be the first site of its kind Lightingbuyer.com will feature thousands of products from major lighting manufacturers and distributors including bulbs and lamps. How illuminating.
The Net's first bank aimed specifically at gays and lesbians is to launch a major ad campaign early next year to promote the new service. G & L Internet Bank will go live later this year.
IT publisher ZDNet is to offer jobs online thanks to an agreement with online recruitment firm Monster.com.
Yahoo! has launched its subscription-free ISP Yahoo! Online in Italy following a tie-up with Italian telco Wind.
Commercial ISP PSINet has been on a spending spree after announcing it has bought three service providers to develop its presence in two developing Hispanic markets. It has acquired two Spanish ISPs -- Infase Comunicaciones and Ciberia Internet. It has also acquired ServNet in Brazil. Elsewhere, PSINet also bough Vision Network based in Hong Kong.
101cd.com -- which claims to be one of Europe's largest Web sites selling CDs, videos, games and books -- generates more than £12,500 a week in sales, the British company said.
17 Sept 1999
Search engine outfit Inktomi Corporation is to acquire WebSpective Software -- which provides content distribution and tracking software -- for $106 million.
Yahoo! is on the hunt for European technology companies and other businesses that provide personalised Web services, the company said yesterday. The portal has already made 12 acquisitions in the US but since Europe became its fastest growing marketplace it has now signalled its interest to invest in Continental companies.
Desktop Lawyer -- the legal service that recently brought online divorce to Britain -- has teamed up with BT to promote its online legal documents through the BT Connect to Business portal. This latest deal comes hard on the heals of similar agreements with LineOne, Sage and Totalise.
British start-up Brickhouse Internet Services is selling .uk domain names for £30 for two years including free hosting and free submission to 19 search engines.
BBC Worldwide has recruited Drew Kaza as its new MD to lead the further strategic development of its Internet and new media activity. Kaza joined BBC Worldwide after four years running his own international media company Mediaplex, which focused on business development in broadcasting, digital and interactive media. Elsewhere, a spokesman for BBC Worldwide denied there were any plans to sell-off its commercial Internet arm beeb.com.
Hampshire-based Global Investor has launched a new Web site which lets Net users get their hands on financial books, newsletters, software and other financial products -- and all for free. Aptly named, Financial-Freebies.com is the first site to bring such a large collection of financial give-aways under one roof, said the company. Who said there's no such thing as a free lunch?
British travel information site Wcities.com is expanding into Europe publishing tourist guides on European cities including Paris, Madrid, Berlin, Munich, Rome and Milan. Wcities.com claims it is meeting demand for content that is relevant to a local and global audience. The London-based outfit is privately funded and has no plans at present to float.
One of Britain's top travel agents has launched a new Web site. Thomas Cook Interactive's site is now offering 2.5 million holidays online -- up from 100,000 last year.
16 Sept 1999
Venture capitalists Amadeus and Gilde are backing a British start up that plans to sell natural beauty products online. Called Thinknatural.com, the service has been set up by the former MD of Carlton Online Carol Dukes.
Bigsave.com is appointing two retail banks to help it float, according to theFT
. The online retailer hopes to secure around $50 million from a listing, which would value the company at around $500 million.
Dublin-based online bank, First-e could be looking to expand into Europe thanks to an injection of £29 million from its parent group Enba. The funding comes from a second round of private investing.
NatWest is to nudge its customers toward online banking courtesy of a deal with Yahoo!. The deal will see the bank drop its online banking charges and develop the Internet as its primary retail channel.
Boots the Chemist and Hollinger Telegraph Media have formed a joint venture called Handbag.com. It launches next month and will be an online shopping venture aimed at women. It's predicted to generate sales of £70 million a year, within five years but has already drawn criticism form some quarters that the site is patronising to women.
Egg -- Britain’s first internet bank -- is to increase the interest rate on each of its savings accounts in response to the rise in the Bank of England’s base rate last week. Egg’s Internet Only Savings Account now pays 6 per cent on balances of £1 and over. The prudential-owned online bank has pledged that it will pay at least 0.5 per cent above the base rate on its main savings account until January 1, 2000.
With Christmas a little over three months away analysts are predicting that the online sale of toys is going to go through the roof as parents opt for the easy way of appeasing their little darlings. One Net analyst predicts that eToys sales will reach $124 million this year -- and $250 million in 2000.
Durlacher Corporation Plc, the European emerging technology and new media investment group and the sixth largest company on the Alternative Investment Market (AIM), is to apply to the London Stock Exchange for listing on the main market. Chairman and CEO Geoffrey Chamberlain announced the move at an EGM today. The company will also seek shareholder approval to increase the authorised share capital and capitalise part of the company's reserve accounts by way of a 14-for-1 bonus issue. Announcing its results for year-end June 30 Durlacher said turnover had increase by 101 per cent to £13.2 million -- up from £6.6 million the year before. Pre-tax profit was also up to £2.7million from £0.9 million over the same period.
Top three portal Excite will be spilling the beenz to its users after signing a marketing deal with the central bank of the online currency . Excite UK will use the beenz to launch its loyalty scheme guaranteeing that an extra 50 million beenz will be circulated into the Web economy. The deal with Excite is the biggest yet for the six-month-old British company beenz.com.
Content providers TDL InfoSpace is to supply three new features to AOL UK's subscription free ISP Netscape Online as part of a new deal, the company announced today.
Subscription-free ISP Blue Carrots -- which offers shares in the company in return for customer loyalty -- is trying another way to tempt Net users to try its service. Blue Carrot crunchers are being offered a mobile phone package worth £260 including a Nokia 5110 digital phone and 200 minutes free off peak calls a month as well as a bundle of other goodies. Unfortunately, the PR bunny looking after Blue Carrots couldn't say which mobile phone network service provider was being used.