Deja.com withdraws IPO a year after filing

The company, whose Web site offers targeted shopping and a forum for consumers to swap information, withdraws its plans for an initial public offering.

WASHINGTON--Deja.com, whose Web site offers targeted shopping and a forum for consumers to swap information, withdrew its plans today for an initial public stock sale worth $57.5 million.

The New York-based company cited adverse market conditions as the reason for the cancellation in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

In interviews, Deja.com executives said a more central reason for the withdrawal was a delay in going public caused by the company's decision to revise its business model.

"We got a letter from the SEC asking that we withdraw it because it's been on file for about a year," said Richard Gorelick, the company's chief strategy officer.

Soon after filing to go public in June 1999, Gorelick said Deja.com executives realized that their action was premature and that their business model needed fine-tuning.

"We're still evolving," he said. "We've learned from filing something so soon after a launch that it makes more sense to prove what we're doing first."

Last year, Deja.com encountered skepticism about its business model, which changed shortly before the IPO was filed. The company's current Web site was launched in May 1999, a month before the filing to go public.

The change, coming so soon before the filing, led an Internet columnist for the San Jose Mercury News to call the Web site at that time "a hastily launched work in progress."

Deja.com replaced DejaNews.com, which had served as a gateway to chat groups on Usenet, a bulletin board and online chat system whose existence predated the Web.

Many of the chats featured consumers comparing notes about products. The Web site that replaced DejaNews offered that service but added an element for consumers to rate and review products, from digital cameras to European vacation spots.

The site has changed again. It now offers what it calls a "precision buying service" as well.

"We'll easily and quickly help you find precisely the product that you want, and we'll direct you, armed with competitive pricing information, to merchants who have that exact product in stock," the site says.

"Our service is light years ahead of anybody else's out there," Gorelick said.

Gorelick also would not rule out the possibility that Deja.com might reapply to go public. "There's lots of possibilities," he said.

Scores of companies have postponed or canceled their IPOs during the past few months as the IPO market has sagged. Since the market peaked March 10, IPO stock values have dropped 48 percent in value, according to the Bloomberg IPO Index.

During the past week, IPOs have reversed that trend, rising 23 percent since May 26, according to the Bloomberg index.

Copyright 2000, Bloomberg L.P. All Rights Reserved.

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