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Firms profiting via portals

A growing number of Web companies are basing their businesses on the back of the sizzling portal market.

Amid the high-profile battle among portal sites such as Yahoo and Lycos, a growing number of Web companies are basing their businesses on the back of this sizzling market.

While portals spend millions on marketing their names and features to attract new users, many firms are happy to provide the back-end services, such as free email, stock information, and shopping. That's where C2B comes in.

Like many other companies, C2B seeks to provide e-commerce technology for portals' users. While services such as free email attract Net users to sites, shopping can not only draw new customers but also generate revenue.

Portals, according to C2B cofounder and spokesman Greg Newman, "have deployed email, they've deployed chat. Now they're looking for the next killer app to keep users at their site. Shopping," he said, "is the next killer app."

Both Net-based and retail companies increasingly are looking to e-commerce as a less expensive and easier way to reach consumers, replicating and combining the positives of retail and mail-order shopping.

In that vein, the company announced this week that several companies will use its technology, including Delphi Forums, LookSmart, MasterCard International, and WhoWhere/AngelFire.

Customers on sites that use the service will be able to broadly search for both product information and price.