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Backflip changes name, business strategy

Leaping from the troubled business of an advertising-supported Web site to the much-hyped wireless arena, the company formerly known as Backflip will unveil its new flagship product.

Leaping nimbly from the troubled business of an advertising-supported Web site to the much-hyped wireless arena, the company formerly known as Backflip will unveil its new flagship product this week, sources close to the company said.

The San Francisco start-up, under its new name Intanda, plans to demonstrate a wireless messaging application called Conference Connection at this week's Demo 2001 conference in Phoenix. The conference sponsor, IDG, is Intanda's first customer.

Conference Connection lets conference-goers and organizers communicate with each other through the Web and through WAP-enabled cell phones. The first component, People Finder, lets attendees access a list of other registered participants and send them messages. The second component, Command Center, lets conference organizers disseminate information to participants' phones through a secured Web page.

Intanda and IDG could not immediately be reached for comment.

But on the Intanda Web site, IDG endorsed the company's technology.

"Intanda's service leapt out at us as useful and smart," reads the statement by Lia Lorenzano, president of IDG Executive Forums. "Our goal is to connect executives with each other and with the right information at the right time, and Intanda will help us achieve that goal."

In targeting conferences, Intanda is pursuing what it sees as a multibillion dollar market, sources said. The company will also pursue at least one other vertical market with some variation of the application that would let businesses communicate with suppliers or customers, for example.

Founded by veterans of Netscape Communications, Backflip launched in 1999 as an advertising-supported site for helping people keep track of their bookmarks. As the ad market faltered and the business stalled, Backflip suffered serious attrition and a management shake-up while investors sought to reposition the company.

The germ of Backflip's move to the wireless business was its acquisition in April 2000 of competitor MyBookmarks.com, which had a feature specifically for bookmarks to WAP pages. When the advertising outlook darkened, Backflip/Intanda engineers rewrote their entire application from scratch.

A trial version of Conference Connection launched in the fall. In addition to the application, Intanda offers accompanying professional services.

Intanda's investors include 21st Century Venture Partners, Angel Investors and Rosewood Venture Group.