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Revisiting Internet Venture Capital

As the Internet becomes more dominant in commercial and consumer life, investors' reluctance in Internet-related businesses in the past few years will prove shortsighted.

Take the case of MDlinx.com and Tutor.com, businesses that Jupitermedia, through its interests in several venture capital funds, made investments in during 1999. Jupitermedia, the publisher of internetnews.com, also has a business relationship with the companies.

MDlinx.com delivers specialty e-mail newsletters to over 20,000 physicians on over 400 medical topics. Tutor.com offers a variety of tutoring services online to students.

Since early 2002, Jupitermedia has stopped making venture capital investments. The limited partners that invested money in such ventures got cold feet during the previous few years as Internet valuations were destroyed, forcing us to truncate our funding so that additional investments can no longer be considered.

Some investors that had placed a significant amount of money into one of our venture funds in late 1999 and early 2000 went from being Internet cheerleaders to backstabbers once the Internet valuation meltdown took root. In the process, they demonstrated an incredible ignorance about valuations and the time it takes for a fledgling organization to gather financial strength.

I recently had meetings with MDLinx.com and Tutor.com. Both companies are thriving.

As time goes by, fickle investors will surely get back in the game with some other investment vehicle and totally forget what has transpired.

The lesson to be learned is that the Internet is alive and well. The business and information transformation that is taking place because of the Internet is astounding. WiFi, education, travel, buying, information resources and hosts of other young Internet companies are rising on investors' radar screens. The financial and business consumer press carries Internet success stories everyday (albeit with a healthier dose of skeptism about what works, and what doesn't).

Keep your eye out: A new wave of Internet investing is about to take off, now that once- fledgling Internet companies are germinating into robust businesses.

Alan Meckler is Chairman and Chief Executive of Jupitermedia Corp. His column appears monthly on internetnews.com