PrizePoint Entertainment chief executive Chris Hassett today likened his Internet start-up to the introduction of entertainment programming in the early days of television and radio.
As reported two days ago by CNET News.com, Prizepoint, led by PointCast cofounder Hassett, plans to launch on February 1.
"[Television and radio] also started with utilitarian content, but quickly broadened to include entertainment," Hassett said.
He summed up the company's strategy as follows: "Our goal is to entertain. The site was designed to provide the user with something else to do on the Internet when you're done with
utilitarian tasks like checking email, news, and stocks."
The site will offer skill, knowledge, and chance games that
will reward players with points. Recipients can then use those points toward
hourly sweepstakes-style giveaways of prizes that range from small cash
awards to vacations and vehicles. The more points a user spends on a
give-away session, the higher his or her chances of winning.
PrizePoint will earn money through advertisements tightly integrated into
the site's design. Some ads are not clearly identified, and when users
click on them, further information about advertised goods comes up within
the PrizePoint gaming console.
Some of the site's prizes will be provided by advertisers; PrizePoint will
have to shell out for others. Hassett said he expects to move beyond the
pure advertising model toward a more direct e-commerce model, eventually partnering
with third-party vendors and making products directly available through the
PrizePoint is privately funded. Investors include Encompass Ventures and
Trans Cosmos USA.
Last summer, PrizePoint ran a beta test for the product.
The company's management team includes other former PointCast employees. Hassett is
president and chief executive, while Frank Blot is vice president of marketing and business development. John Nogrady, PrizePoint's vice president of engineering, was director of engineering at PointCast.
Hassett still is a stockholder in privately held PointCast, but no longer is an employee of the company. As reported, PointCast shelved its IPO last year, but is negotiating an alliance
with regional Bell telephone companies.
Prizepoint's launch comes amid a flurry of start-up ventures on the Internet, including Drugstore.com, an e-commerce site that is expected to
launch by March. Drugstore.com is led by another technology veteran, former
Microsoft executive Peter Neupert.