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eFront sites given two days to relocate

The troubled Web site aggregator faces a virtual eviction and has alerted its member sites that they must vacate their current servers.

Troubled Web site aggregator eFront Media is facing a virtual eviction and has alerted its member sites that they must vacate their current servers.

eFront, the Web site aggregator that gained notoriety after its chief executive's ICQ logs were posted to the Web, will lose services currently provided by Space4Rent at midnight Thursday, eFront warned Webmasters in an e-mail alert.

Sources close to both companies said the shutdown is due to lack of payment.

"Effective April 5, 2001 at 12 midnight PT, eFront will discontinue the free hosting it offered to the Web sites on its network," read the alert, signed by eFront Director of Operations Greg Panos. "eFront will continue to operate as an advertising network. This gives all of the Web sites a two-day period to find another solution to host their Web sites."

eFront did not return calls seeking comment. Space4Rent said it had ended all business relationships with eFront, but declined to comment further.

Sources said eFront in the past few weeks had renegotiated its contract with Space4Rent, but that the company this week acknowledged it wouldn't be able to pay even that renegotiated fee.

The hosting debacle could be especially difficult for eFront Webmasters, many of whom have lost access to their sites after signing away the domains to eFront.

"Some people don't have access to their domains anymore, and they have been contacting eFront feverishly trying to get access to them," said a source close to eFront. "The other ones are working very hard to get their stuff off in time."

eFront, which has been in the process of returning some of the Web sites it acquired, is down to about 110 sites and plans to find alternate hosting for about 25, the source said.

Morale at the company--hit hard first by bad times common to all advertising-supported Web companies and then by the dissemination of the ICQ logs--has plunged in the wake of the hosting news.

"The end is when the Internet company loses its ability to be on the Internet," said the source. "This is kind of the final act."