Boo assets go for a song

Bright Station pays out 250,000 for lovely technology

Bright Station is to announce today the purchase of technology assets of boo.com, for a whopping 250,000, the Sunday Times reports.

If the sum – also reported by the BBC – is true, then the sale is either a damning indictment of the quality of the technology developed inhouse, or of the sales process conducted by KPMG.

Boo spent millions – tens of millions - on developing its Web site. Perhaps the majority of this was money ill-spent – who can tell? But the end result, 3D technology and all, should have been worth a lot more than 250,000 to somebody – a big-name retailer, a big-name consultancy.

Incidentally, what about all those hot-shot Internet consultancies/designers hauled in over the last year by Boo. Did not one of them think it worthwhile bidding more than 250,000 for the technology?

Split in twain

The Bright Station takeover looks uncommonly like the last-ditch business plan constructed by boo's management team, and rejected by shareholders. If implemented, the company would have split in two, as retailer, and Internet design/development team.

Bright Station has got a technology platform for designing other Web sites very cheaply indeed. It will also offer positions to Boo’s programmers - how many are there left out of the remaining 30 Boo staff? – the sort of people for whom getting jobs is not exactly a problem.

Bright Station has been trying to get Boo staff on board for a couple of weeks now. On 19 May, analyst Richard Holway noted: "A Bright Station source has been quoted as saying 'We rate the management team very highly. OK, they screwed up a bit, but they are still very talented'. Comment: Are they talking about Boo.com? Or is this how they would like to be perceived themselves?"

Bright Station used to be called Dialog, and before that, MAID. The company is led by the controversial entrepreneur Dan Wagner (he's always called that, don't know why), who is also part of the consortium buying collapsed e-publishing outfit Net Imperative.

Going for a song

KPMG has certainly been quick in disposing the boo.com technology. From what we read, it whittled down an initial cast-list of up to 30 interested parties to six, by the simple expedient of imposing a demand for 1 million returnable deposit by Friday of last week. You could say that this separates sheep from cowboys. You could also say that this was almost guaranteed to generate a crap price.

The shelf life of Boo, the brand, and Boo, the company is extremely short, so a quick fire sale makes sense. The shelf life of Boo, the software, is much longer, certainly if the technology platform is any good. A slightly longer sales process would have generated a better deal for creditors.

Boo.com owes 17 million to trade creditors, mostly advertising agencies (so what, they’ve had their snouts in a very big trough, some - but not me - may argue) and courier companies (shame).

Oh, Miss Boo. How do you do

Reader Tom Metcalfe writes: "since Bright Source want to buy boo.com's dull old 3D technology, what is to become of tragic miss boo (the boo.com avatar), who is certainly much more widely recognised thanks to the collapse: on geo-television her iconic status seems assured.

She's more interesting than annanova, so maybe miss boo could be employed in webtv somewhere?"

Yes, Tom. But where do we get her CV? ®

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