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Word, Charged reborn

The e-zines, which were shut down last month by their parent company, are sold to a firm eager to get into Web publishing.

Some Net users were a little misty-eyed when news spread last month that Icon CMT Corporation was shutting down the seasoned culture e-zine Word and extreme sports site Charged.

Today, however, Icon said the e-zines will be resurrected.

The company is selling the sites for $2 million to Houston-based food-processing firm Zapata Corporation, which is new to Web publishing and is planning to change its name to Zap Corporation.

Despite the fact that online publishers are struggling to make money, Zapata sees the purchase as a smart way for it to tip-toe into e-commerce and Net publishing. Like many other companies, Zapata has pinpointed the Net as a cornerstone of future business success. The company plans to acquire more Internet properties down the line to build a new arm of its company.

In early March, Icon, an end-to-end Net access provider for businesses, laid off about ten people and discontinued the sites to "focus on its core business." Although the magazines were popular, they weren't a part of that strategy.

The deal with Zapata will help bolster Icon's business in more ways than one. Over the next four years, Zapata will pay Icon $2 million for Net access, Web hosting, and other corporate networking products. In return, Zapata will get the rights to Word and Charged, including its archives.

"We were able to convert this into a revenue stream for Icon," Scott Baxter, president and chief executive of Icon, said today.

"Word and Charged were very successful as standalone zines on the Internet," he added. "Zap wants to become an interactive company; it's using Word and Charged as its cornerstone properties for getting into the online zine space."

Launched in June 1995, Word was known for its rich graphics and commentary about life, work, and social issues. Charged focused on action sports such as skateboarding and surfing. The site also featured articles about movies and games.

Zapata is expected to hire back the editorial staffs of Word and Charged. "They'll take on the ongoing expense, including personnel. They will hire the staffs that supported those online zines," Baxter said.

For Zapata, the transaction could help it leapfrog into the Net content business, where competition is fierce for readers and advertising dollars.

"We intend to establish a meaningful presence on the Internet and believe that this transaction establishes us as a major player from day one," Avie Glazer, president and chief executive of Zapata, said in a statement.