Getting Back to Basics

Although I don’t want to encourage Barron’s by helping them sell any more
newsstand copies, these guys sure don’t mind stirring the pot when they
unmask their glee over the dot-com meltdown. All’s fair in love and war;
but for Pete’s sake, if you’re looking to smear the entire Internet sector
with a broad lazy brushstroke, at least commission a competent research
firm to dig up dirt. I’ve seen a kindergartener with an abacus put together
a more comprehensive job than Pegasus Research is doing.


Getting back to basics


Ilife.com is still busy trying to find a buyer
for its sibling Web properties Consejero.com and Pivot.com. The company is making the smart
decision by focusing on its flagship property bankrate.com while trimming the fat from
its expenditures. In an all too familiar scene, the parent company is
grabbing a bucket and bailing before going the way of the Dodo.


Consejero.com is a financial Web site focused on the Latin American
community. It’s got all the bells and whistles of the average pre-IPO
up-and-comer – plenty of info on investing and personal finance, that sort
of thing. But earlier this month, ilife told the start-up’s skipper Bill
Plasencia that he’d have to find another sugar daddy for his next payday.
With so many mouths to feed, the cash drain had become much too burdensome.


During frothier times, ilife had ambitious plans to spin-off its sister
sites into a couple of lucrative IPOs. Despite showing flashes of turning
the corner, the new issues market is out of gas by the side of the road,
and with it, easy money. From B2B to foreign language portals, the company
did its best to keep pace with the money flow of investor dollars. But even
Baskin Robbins couldn’t keep up with all the flavors of the month.


Ilife itself appointed a new CEO last month to circle the wagons and start
thinking about numero uno. With greenbacks running dangerously low, the
company shed 10% of its workforce and auctioned off its College Press
Network Web site to well-heeled Colleges.com.


With ilife’s stock trading near a dollar and a half, there’s no wiggle room
for a secondary offering to refill the war chest. So, I like the latest
moves to consolidate operations and sell off ancillary business interests.
Most upstarts won’t show warning signs until they’re already turning out
the lights. It’s refreshing to see a company drop the game face and stop
pretending there’s no holes in the boat. In this case, tough decisions and
straight forward house cleaning are what just might keep ilife afloat.


Any questions or comments, love letters or hate mail? As always, feel free
to forward them to [email protected].


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