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NBCi launches, lacks luster on Nasdaq

General Electric's NBC launches its first public Internet company, NBC Internet, placing a strong emphasis on e-commerce.

General Electric's NBC today launched its first public Internet company, NBC Internet (NBCi), placing a strong emphasis on e-commerce.

NBCi combines the Snap.com Internet portal with community services and direct e-commerce company Xoom.com, along with several of NBC's properties, including NBC.com and AccessHollywood.com.

The company, which began trading at 88.5 today on the Nasdaq Stock Market under the ticker symbol "NBCI," closed at 76 with a volume of 1.2 million shares.

"Maybe it was seen as having no short-term future, and in this business you either hit the ground running or a steam roller is rolling over you," David Menlow, of IPOfinancial.com, told Reuters.

With the close of this transaction, NBCi's properties rank as the seventh-most-visited Web sites and services on the Internet, according to September 1999 Media Metrix rankings.

NBCi also said today that it has entered into a promotion and distribution deal with Clear Channel Communications under which NBCi's services will be promoted on the more than 425 radio stations run by Clear Channel. NBCi's offering will be integrated into its Web properties.

Other broadcasters, including CBS, ABC and Fox, have recently picked up the pace to install themselves firmly as companies with strong Internet components, as traditional media companies and the Net continue to converge.

With NBCi as its Internet portal, NBC hopes to direct its TV and radio audiences to the Net, with e-commerce at the centerpiece of its new strategy.

"With today's launch of NBCi and the Snap site, NBC takes the next step beyond traditional media platforms into the Internet to become an electronic commerce company, enabling our valuable network television advertisers to directly reach consumers," Bob Wright, chief executive of NBC and chairman of NBCi, said in a statement. "This significant occasion also marks the first time in NBC history that investors have the opportunity to purchase stock in a company that bears the NBC name and logo as part of its identity."

The companies also announced that NBCi will acquire $405 million in NBC network and cable advertising over the next four years.

Stockholders in Xoom are now stockholders in NBCi, with each share of Xoom common stock (formerly traded under the ticker "XMCM") becoming a single share of NBCi Class A common stock.

Former Xoom shareholders own 38.8 percent of NBCi. NBC is the largest equity holder in NBCi, with a 47.3 percent stake in the company, and CNET, which launched Snap, holds a 13.8 percent stake in NBCi. CNET is the publisher of News.com.

CNET's and General Electric's stock dipped in morning trading, falling 2.75 points to 52.75 and 1.06 points to132.06, respectively.

Reuters contributed to this report.