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Shopping.com gets a new leader

The electronic commerce site names John Markley, who has 25 years of experience in the non-Internet retail industry, its new president and chief executive.

Shopping.com, an electronic commerce site with a short but volatile history, today named a new president and chief executive. John Markley, who has 25 years of experience in the non-Internet retail industry, will be replacing Robert McNulty, the Corona Del Mar, California, company said.

"With John Markley as president and chief executive officer, the company will have the opportunity to reach its full potential in the burgeoning Internet marketplace," McNulty said in a statement.

On June 1, 52-year-old McNulty resigned from Shopping.com's board of directors, and from his president and CEO roles, the statement said. The company did not say why he is leaving or what his future plans are.

Founded by Internet entrepreneur Bill Gross, who has launched other Net sites, such as CitySearch and eToys.com, Shopping.com is highly regarded among many analysts, who say it is poised to cash in on the growing Internet retail market.

But the company has experienced its share of turbulence since it launched in July of 1997. In March, the Securities and Exchange Commission suspended trading of its stock, citing "a lack of current and accurate information regarding the securities of Shopping.com related to market activity in the stock that may have been the result of manipulative trading conduct." Trading resumed ten days later.

Shopping.com's stock went public in November at 9, and since has soared well into the 30 range. Shares closed up .75 today, at 24.25.

Also in March, the brokerage house Chatfield Dean initiated coverage of Shopping.com with a "sell" recommendation, arguing that the stock was "overvalued considering the company's slim margins and the large expenses." In mid April, shareholders sued Shopping.com for alleged securities fraud.

Like CEOs at other Net companies, the 58-year-old Markley is a relative newcomer to the online world. He has held top executive slots at three chains of home improvement centers--Pay N' Pak Home Centers, W.R. Grace Western Region Home Center Division, and Cashways Building Centers.