, looking to avoid a chapter 11 bankruptcy
filing, has sold its Voice on the Net events business back to its original
owner, Voice over IP
Key3Media of Boston, which runs the Comdex and NetWorld+Interop trade shows and
Seybold seminars, did not release terms or a value of the sale.
When Key3Media purchased the VON events business from
guru Jeff Pulver in 2001, the sale was valued at an estimated $60 million. The
timing of the original sale could not have helped. In addition to taking place as telecommunications investors recoiled at the market correction in the sector, the sale was made public on Sept. 11, 2001.
Following a particularly sluggish Comdex show last fall in Las Vegas, the company went into default on some of its bank loans after it missed interest payments in December.
A 30-day grace period also passed without the company making any interest payments. A spokesman confirmed that Key3Media is currently negotiating with creditors in what is expected to be a pre-packaged bankruptcy reorganization. The company has an estimated $300 million in total debt.
Pulver said reacquiring the Voice on the
Net events is part of his optimism that VoIP is seeing a renaissance
after an initial wave of interest in the mid-1990s. As the
telecommunications and technology industries reeled in the aftermath of the market correction that began in 2000, VoIP events and technology investments were either shelved or pushed aside.
Now, as broadband access spreads among consumers, and the cheaper cost of
Internet-enabled voice services appeal to businesses, Pulver is looking to
capitalize on the “return” of VoIP with his repurchase of the VON events.
Since its founding in 1997, VON counts about 25,000 attendees at its events.
“Internet communications seems poised for a period of rapid growth much
like when IBM entered the PC business in 1983,” said Pulver, whose company is based in Melville, N.Y. “The foundation
of Internet communications established over the next few years will
determine the nature of the telecom industry for the next 100 years.”