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.

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