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Inquiry.com shutters Web site

Inquiry.com, conceived as a one-stop research site for IT professionals, closes shop after failing to attract needed corporate funding.

    Once considered by many in the industry to be the one-stop research site for IT professionals, Inquiry.com today closed shop after failing to attract needed corporate funding, according to the company.

    The company's Web site will remain online "as long as possible," according to a statement issued today. However, all of the company's assets are up for sale including the brand, domains, technology, hardware, and content the company owned.

    Founded in 1995, Inquiry.com management claimed it had built the fourth-largest IT audience on the Web, after ZDNet, CNET, and CMP's Techweb.

    Inquiry.com president Reed Taussig said his company was growing, but the funds to back up this growth weren't there. "It's simple. The board determined that in order for us to make it in the new order of doing business on the Internet, we had to have corporate sponsorship in order to compete." The company was unable to garner that support, he said.

    The site offered information about various software technologies, and included access to experts in various fields such as Java, Visual Basic, C++, and a host of other programming languages. The company's database offered information on software, networking, and IT hardware suppliers.

    The company generated leads by amassing and creating content that helped corporate software buyers make decisions. The site offered product information from 140 vendors, two years of back issues of a couple dozen independent high-tech publications, and its own advice-oriented content.

    Inquiry.com drew its revenues by supplying potential customer references to technology vendors, which paid the company between $15 and $25 per lead.

    But analysts say the challenge of serving such a huge market of IT professionals was too much for the San Mateo, California-based company and poses a challenge for similar ventures in the future.

    "They were trying to create a community in a very broad market," said Don DePalma, an analyst at Forrester Research.

    There are between 2.4 million and 3 million IT professionals out there, according to Forrester Research estimates. "And there are IT professionals spread across a wide array of technologies. When you look at that, it's hard to find a discrete community," he said.

    The need to find a niche in the broad IT professional market is necessary for any online service to succeed, said DePalma. "For Inquiry.com, the people just weren't there" to provide that community.

    In recent months, the company says it has served over 3.5 million pages monthly. But without the corporate support, Taussig said, the board decided to pull the plug on the project.