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YOUcentric

Want to learn a new buzzword? Well, this one is called eRM, which stands for e-business Relationship Management. One of the proponents of the concept is YOUcentric.

What is eRM, really? Okay, first of all, you need to understand another buzzword: CRM or customer relationship management. Basically, CRM uses technology to help manage relationships between sales, marketing and customer service. Now, as for eRM, this will help manage relationships with all participants in the value chain of an enterprise.

Of course, to accomplish this feat, the technology must be scalable and seamless with complex IT systems. So, YOUcentric's software solutions are based on Java technologies.

There are other advantages. For example, the software uses a component-based architecture. This allows for customization.

The company plans to go public this week. The lead underwriter is US Bancorp Piper Jaffray and the price range is $11-$13 (the company intends to issue 5 million shares). The proposed ticker symbol is YOUC.

For the first six months of 2000, revenues were $5.4 million, which was a 160 percent increase from the same period a year ago. While gross margins were 61.7 percent, the company had losses of $7.2 million.

However, it is really hard to see the difference between CRM and eRM. To me, it seems like a difference with no distinction. In fact, the company was founded in 1994 and was originally a software developer for sales management software. It was not until December 1999 that the company changed direction.

In other words, this is an early stage company. Currently, there are only nine customers. Examples include FedEx and Legg Mason (which, by the way, is an underwriter of the IPO).

Moreover, the company faces stiff competition. The company must deal with such companies as BroadVision and Kana Communications.

So far, the demand for the IPO looks tepid. And, with the fall in Nasdaq, I think there's a good chance that the IPO will show a poor performance or will even be pulled.