At the current rate, if the stock price falls any further,
will really be
free for investors. The 52-week range is $2 – $60 7/8; the current stock
price is $2-5/8.
Two brothers founded Be Free in the early days of the Web in 1996.
Basically, they developed technologies to allow for merchant-branded
affiliate programs. In fact, the company’s first customer was
barnesandnoble.com (in late 1996). Of course, now the company has a slew of
customers, such as AOL, IBM, and Yahoo!
Be Free’s technology has evolved quickly catering to business-to-consumer
and business-to-business channels. For customers, Be Free’s solutions are
enticing. Essentially, they provide cost-effective customer acquisition – based on
pay-for-performance. Yet, customers do not have to deal with the
many headaches of managing an affiliate program, such as enrollment and
In fact, Be Free has cutting-edge technology called BSELECT. This enables
personalization of affiliate programs. For example, programs allow for
recommendations of products based on prior consumer behavior.
The company is showing traction. In the past quarter, revenues were $5.3
million, which was up from $1.3 million in the same period a year ago.
Losses were $4 million. Yes, the burn is high, but the company has targeted
profitability by the first quarter of 2002.
Be Free has been diversifying its customer base, adding more
brick-and-mortar companies (about one-third of revenues). Customers include
IBM, Bertelsmann, 3M, Sprint, and Staples.
Be Free has become a dominant player in the affiliate marketing industry.
Actually, according to a Forrester Research study, performance-based
marketing is expected to represent 50 percent of online marketing by 2003.
Also, assuming there is a wave of mergers & acquisitions next year, Be Free
would seem like a good candidate. After all, the company has about $160
million in cash and a market cap of $172 million.