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Durlacher falls on Net Imperative collapse

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(This story was filed first on 22 May, 2000)

Net Imperative, a start-up online new media magazine backed by investment bank Durlacher, has called in the liquidators.

Can't imagine why anyone would want to buy it. Aimed at the Internet finance community (borrowers and lenders) in Britain, this daily news service had no wit, no sparkle and no information to make it a "must read".

The only banner ads (for MazWare and Doubleclick) one could see looked like contras - ie. they were bartered. There was no sponsorship, and no sense of community (where were those teeming bulletin boards). And there was no paid-for content - or e-commerce.

Durlacher shrugs

Durlacher pumped in 570,000 quid for its 28.5 per cent stake in Net Imperative. So it looks like that's all going down the Swanee. Net Imperative represents only 1.9 per cent of Durlacher's outstanding investments. But what about the others? According to the FT, Durlacher's investment roster looks like "a disparate conglomeration of stakes in companies that may never graduate to the stock market". Never mind. It always has its corporate finance activities to fall back on.

At 12.24 pm, Durlacher was down 6.5p at 71, an 8.39 per cent fall on the day, AFX reported.

The451.com

Durlacher also invests in The451, an absurdly self-regarding paid-for IT news site, founded by ex-ComputerWire employees, that reads like Infoworld. Except duller. And where is its database of archived material, surely a must for chargeable news? There is none, because it's start-up.

This site of "Technology Firestarters" (yes, really) has 42 journos working for it, in London, New York and San Francisco, and depends on enough companies coughing up $600 per seat per annum (with volume price breaks, of course) to see it survive and thrive. From where we sit, this looks like a huge bunch of fixed overheads (The Register started with three journos, moved up to eight by the end of last year, and will be up to 13 in mid-June). Let's hope it is properly funded. With Durlacher owning 65 per cent of The451, and more financing rounds to come, there must be a big question mark.

Content is king

It is an axiom in publishing (Drew Cullen's axiom, anyroads) that good people do not necessarily make a good publication.

You can do the best research, write up the most impressive business plan, throw together a bunch of good writers, editors and managers... and it could still fall around your ears. Great publications have character, brand, personality, and/or are unimpeachably authorititive. How can you quantify those qualities in your business plan? ®

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