PointCast Merging With LaunchPad

After an extensive search to find a buyer and turning down a lucrative deal to merge with News Corp., “push” broadcasting pioneer PointCast Inc. Tuesday merged with LaunchPad Technologies, which is controlled by venture capital firm idealab.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the deal is valued at about $7 million. PointCast will merge its operations with LaunchPad, the maker of eWallet. eWallet is a software program that allows Web users to store credit card numbers and other private information on their PCs.

The Journal said LaunchPad will use PointCast’s technology to notify its users of sales or notify them when a winning bid has been placed at an auction site.

Idealab chief Bill Gross called e-commerce “the ultimate use” of PointCast’s technology.

PointCast, which was hailed as a revolutionary company shortly after its technology debuted, saw its fortunes diminish as push technology was slow to catch on. When PointCast was released in 1995, broadband connections such as cable or Digital Subscriber Line were practically nonexistent. That meant users not connected to a high-speed Local Area Network saw their Internet connections clogged by PointCast. Many companies also placed restrictions on the service’s use to minimize network bandwidth consumption.

In 1995, PointCast was rumored to have turned down a $450 million buyout from Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp and instead was rumored to be planning an initial public offering. Those IPO plans were shelved in 1998 when the company decided to pursue a merger or acquisition.

News that a deal was in the works was first reported late last week by CNET’s News.com.

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