Stone Cold IPO Market

That World Wrestling Federation’s IPO is starting to look better and
better. At least it doesn’t have .com tacked onto it.

If it did, it would be body-slammed to the mat like virtually every
other Internet company that has gone public in recent days. Six of the
last 10 Internet IPOs finished their first day of trading below their
respective offer prices.

The best debut of the remaining four came Wednesday from Internet
Initiative Japan (NASDAQ: IIJI), which closed trading at $31.31, just
36% above its $23 offer price. Not exactly a crowd-pleasing victory;
more like escaping the ring intact.

Yet four more callow contenders step into Wall Street’s squared circle
Thursday to take on the formidable, villainous tag team of Alan
Greenspan and The Masked Internet Stock Bubble. Moments after the bell
rang, three of the new IPO entrants were being pummeled on the ropes.

Interactive Images (NASDAQ: IPIX), a Tennessee-based company that sells software and
hardware which enables users to navigate inside an interactive digital
photo with a Java-enabled Web browser, opened Thursday morning at
$18.06, just pennies above its $18 offer price for 4.2 million shares.
Lead underwriter for the $75.6 million offering is J.P. Morgan.

The Cobalt Group (CBLT), a Web advertising and marketing firm targeting auto
dealers, began trading at $9.88, more than 10% below its $11 offer
price. Located in Seattle, the company is selling 4.5 million shares on
Nasdaq for a total offering of $49.5 million. Lead underwriter is BancBoston Robertson Stephens.

Internet Capital Group (ICGE), a Pennsylvania investment firm that seeks to
become the next CMGI, opened at $12.13, barely above its $12 offer
price. ICG owns stakes in companies working the business-to-business Web
space. Though it has several ‘Net firms in its portfolio, only online
trade community VerticalNet has generated revenues. ICG seeks to raise
$178.8 million in an offering of 14.9 million shares.

Still to come out of the locker room as of 1 p.m. is perhaps the most
interesting ‘Net offering of the day: (HOMS), a real estate Web network seeking to raise $140 million
in an offering of 7 million shares at $20. has ambitious plans to dominate the potentially huge
online real estate information and services market. Founded in 1993 as
InfoTouch, the company initially intended to develop public kiosks to
allow people to search for home listings.

Within three years it discovered the Internet, switched its name to
NetSelect, and opened, the most popular househunting
site on the Internet. Since then the company, which changed its name
again prior to this IPO, has added three more sites:, (which helps businesses locate offices) and rental
unit site

That’s an impressive collection of URLs for an online real estate
network. Unfortunately, there’s a sizable risk, which the company
addresses in its S-1 filing: The National Association of Realtors (NAR)
holds the trademark and Web site address and exerts great
control over how operates as well as

Further, should NAR terminate the operating agreement, the trade
association would take full control of This is the first
risk listed by in its prospectus, and should giveinvestors pause.

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