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A new web ad boom.

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                   SoHo NEWS & TIPS
Helping You Make the Most of Your Small Office/Home Office


I know everybody remembers the dot com boom and bust of 
the late nineties and early 2000s. During this tiny window 
hundreds of small business owners became instant millionaires, 
and then most of them lost everything. Is the market poised 
to do the whole thing over again with a new crop of investors? 


P.S. You can discuss this issue or any other topic in the 
new SoHo News forum. Check it out... SoHo News & Tips Forum


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- Immigrants in the United States will send more than $45 
billion to back to Latin America this year, 50 percent more 
than 2004...

- Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is expanding a program offering $4 
prescriptions for some generic drugs to 14 more states, two 
weeks after rolling out the low-cost program... 

- Investors sent the Dow Jones industrial average above 
12,000 for a second-straight session as robust earnings from 
blue chips offset weakness in the technology sector...

- Shares of eBay Inc. rose Thursday after the online 
auctioneer posted a profit Wednesday that beat Wall Street's 

- Sony Corp. slashed its profit outlook by 62 percent because 
of battery recall costs and a larger loss at its game unit...

- The scandal-hit technology company Hewlett-Packard has over-
taken Dell to become the world's biggest personal computer 
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Startups Rely On Web Ad Boom 

Hundreds of Internet start-ups targeting a wide range of 
markets -- such as women, music fans and dog-lovers -- are 
now relying on Web advertising to fund their new business 
concepts. Online ads, which have become more sophisticated 
and targeted since the late 1990s, are now an "instant 
business model" for many of these companies, says Brett 
Bullington, a local investor. Web sites that are using or 
plan to use online ads for revenue include social-networking 
sites like TagWorld Inc., online photo and video sites like 
Photobucket Inc., as well as Web instant-messaging company 
Meebo Inc. Online video company YouTube Inc., which agreed 
to be bought by Google Inc. for $1.65 billion last week, 
also receives revenue from online ads.

These sites and others, many of which aren't based on any 
complex technology, are furiously trying to collect thousands 
of "eyeballs," or viewers, which they hope will catch the 
attention of advertisers. That will theoretically allow these 
companies to emulate the success of firms like Internet 
search giant Google, which makes the bulk of its money from 
targeted Web ads.

But for every Google and YouTube, there are likely to be 
hundreds of Web sites that won't attract enough advertising 
to survive. According to research from the Interactive 
Advertising Bureau, a trade group, and PriceWaterhouse-
Coopers, the top 10 online-ad sellers currently control 
71% of the online ad market. Those companies include giants 
like Google and Yahoo Inc. Tiny start-ups will have to 
compete fiercely for the remainder of the online-ad pie, 
says Joe Kraus, chief executive of Web-media firm JotSpot 
Inc. The Interactive Advertising Bureau, however, says some 
small Web sites don't report ad revenues to them, so their 
numbers may be somewhat understated.

During the first dot-com boom, in the late 1990s, lots of 
Web companies also staked their futures on online ads -- and 
many of those sites went bust. But back then, Web use and 
Web commerce were still fairly new and immature and broadband 
penetration was much lower.

Now the online-advertising market is growing rapidly as more 
people spend time on the Web instead of consuming traditional 
media like reading newspapers or watching TV. In the first 
half of this year, Internet advertising revenue hit a record 
$7.9 billion, up 37% from the same period last year, according 
to the Interactive Advertising Bureau.

All of this has triggered questions about the viability of 
many Internet firms recently funded by venture capitalists. 
It also raises parallels to the heady days of 1999, when many 
investors funded companies with dubious business prospects. 
In the first half of this year, venture capitalists -- who 
take stakes in early-stage companies with the hopes of a big 
payout later -- sank more than $262 million into so-called 
Web 2.0 companies in the U.S., such as chat, video and photo 
sites, according to research firm Venture One, a unit of Dow 
Jones & Co., publisher of The Wall Street Journal. Many of 
these Web sites are supported by online ads.

Continued below....


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Though Google forked over a huge sum to buy the ad-supported 
YouTube, which was backed by venture firm Sequoia Capital, 
investors point out that the site was a clear market leader 
and somewhat unique because of the huge, loyal user base it 
amassed so quickly. Very few of today's Internet companies 
will fetch billion-dollar price tags, skeptics say. Some 
will have trouble returning investors much money at all.

That is the view of Vincent Occhipinti, a venture capitalist 
with the Woodside Fund in Redwood Shores, Calif. Earlier 
this year, his firm rejected an investment in Real Girls 
because partners wondered how Ms. Everett-Thorp would dif-
ferentiate her site from rivals. "In essence, it was nothing 
somebody else couldn't do...And she hadn't written a line of 
[computer] code," he says. Instead, the investors watched a 
Power Point presentation outlining her idea.

Ms. Everett-Thorp, 37, acknowledges she didn't launch a 
rudimentary Web site before seeking funding and knew the 
approach was risky. But she didn't let the initial rejection 
damp her enthusiasm and says her company "has a lot to show" 
for its work over the last several months. "The people who 
are involved are incredibly happy," she says. A 12-year 
veteran of the advertising industry, Ms. Everett-Thorp cut 
her teeth building up the ad business at CNET Networks Inc. 
in the 1990s and later started her own online-advertising 
firm, Lot21.

She ultimately snared $6 million in funding for Real Girls 
from WaldenVC and 3i Group PLC, a U.K.-based investment 
firm. Steve Eskenazi, a WaldenVC managing director, says, 
"We don't have much concern that Kate won't be able to 
[succeed with] brand advertisers of the world who want to 
reach women." He and other investors add that, more 
generally, today's Web companies can make money faster 
because their costs have fallen so much thanks to cheaper 
software and low-cost, outsourced programming.

Real Girls, based in San Francisco, now has 16 employees and 
expects to launch its site early next year. Ms. Everett-Thorp 
insists her company will offer more comprehensive content -- 
instead of more targeted material linked to specific events 
in women's lives, like getting married or having babies -- 
than other women-focused sites, such as iVillage.com. It will 
also be a high-quality site where advertisers seeking to 
reach women can go and not worry about offensive or unpredict-
able content, as they might on blogs, she says. She declines 
to go into detail about the possible content on the site 
because it hasn't yet launched.

From The Wall Street Journal Online

So what did you think about this issue? Drop me a line and let 
me know at: mandi@gophercentral.com


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