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Maker of Gooey Web chat seeks buyer

Instant messaging start-up Hypernix has shut its New York office and is seeking a buyer or new investors to remain afloat, a top company executive tells CNET News.com.

Instant messaging start-up Hypernix has shut down its New York office and is seeking a buyer or new investors to remain afloat, a top company executive has told CNET News.com.

Just last year, Hypernix's Gooey application was touted as the leader in a new wave of instant messaging technology. This new kind of chat, sometimes called co-browsing, lets visitors to a particular Web site locate and converse with one another.

Now, in a signal that the latest thing in Web chat could wind up as the latest casualty of the battered technology sector, the Tel-Aviv-based company is slashing costs as it struggles to draw in new capital.

"Like many other Internet companies these days, Hypernix is currently facing financial difficulties," Hypernix co-chief executive Shai Adler wrote in an email interview.

Hypernix's troubles come as many Internet ventures are hitting a financial wall, finding they are scraping for cash, out of business, or up for sale. Other recent examples include CDNow, Peapod and Drkoop.com.

Hopeful Hypernix investors last year bet their money on the notion that the company, which launched not quite one year ago, would turn out to be the next ICQ--a wildly successful instant messaging platform also originally from Israel. ICQ was sold to America Online.

CNET Networks, publisher of News.com, was one of the companies to take a stake in Gooey. CNET paid $2.64 million for a 4.25 percent equity stake in the company last July, when Gooey was valued around $60 million. In November, the company received an undisclosed investment led by New York investment bank Allen & Co. and Japanese venture capital firm Jafco.

Gooey is one of a handful of co-browsing technologies. Other companies in the same market include Crowdburst, SideTalk, Odigo and NetDive.

AOL has said it is working on adding co-browsing capabilities to both ICQ and AOL Instant Messenger.

In its current negotiations with potential investors and buyers, whom Adler did not identify, Hypernix brings to the table both its technology and 900,000 registered users.

"We hope to close a transaction in the near future," Adler wrote.