RealTime IT News

Mergers And Moves We'd Like To See

Many people are treating this year's Internet stock meltdown as a disaster. Understandable if you took my recommendation to buy CMGI in January, but the fact is that market instability always presents splendid opportunities for quick-thinking, visionary companies as well as desperate, failing ones.

So forget the gloomy headlines about plunging dot.com shares, cash burn, layoffs and bankruptcies. The watchword here is transformation and synergy.

OK, that's two watchwords, but the point is that, as consolidation and convergence shake the Internet landscape, it is imperative for companies to think "outside the box" when considering strategic options.

Thus, Internet StockTracker presents for your consideration a modest list of mergers, alliances and new business models we'd like to see:

  • Financial information site TheStreet.com (new strategy every three months) and audio content provider audiohighway.com (50 cents per share) merge to form RoadToNowhere.com.

    AHWY has the traffic, and TSCM has the successful paid subscriber model - oops, sorry, that one apparently didn't work out so well. Suggested marketing hook: Cramer vs. Kramer. Opinionated hedge-fund manager locks horns with wacky Seinfeld neighbor to debate stock trends, earnings estimates and Newman's latest get-rich-quick scheme. Sure, AHWY has signed a letter of intent to merge with nicheMusic.com, but that's where Jackie Chiles comes in.

  • Say what they will at The Knot about being the premiere online wedding resource for brides and grooms, a quick trip to the site plainly reveals it to be geared almost exclusively toward women, thus neglecting almost half of its stated target audience.

    Remedy: Launch a companion site specifically addressing the needs and concerns of guys who are getting married. Call it The Noose.

  • eBay and CMGI. This one is a natural. One party has the premiere site for buying and selling goods online. The other is somewhat eager to reduce its majority holdings in companies from 17 to five in an effort to become profitable.

    Solution: CMGI should auction off its, um, "surplus" properties on eBay. This will cut down on legal fees and, with some luck, also help avoid those meddlesome SEC regulations. Besides, why settle for a fire sale when you can spark a bidding war? It works for Furbys; it can work for providers of "multifunctional, completely integrated payment solutions for all online payment scenarios."

    (Note to David Wetherell: If you do decide to go this route and auction off AltaVista, two words of advice - No Reserve!)

  • Money-losing free access provider Freeserve merges with money-losing free access provider NetZero to form Less Than Zero.

  • EDGAR Online , a Web-based provider of SEC documents, merges with online legal information site LoisLaw.com to offer one-stop shopping service for growing ranks of litigious Internet shareholders. However, since most of their potential customers are now broke, companies may want to ditch paid-subscriber model.

  • Debt-ridden Christian Web site Crosswalk.com joins forces with dwindling Chicago-based 'Net incubator Divine internetVentures to develop a unique business plan: Pray for profits.

    Oops, sorry, that strategy already has been tried in the dot.com world.