Tech Industry

Business.com's launch set for June

Venture capital firm eCompanies is gearing up for a June launch of its much ballyhooed business-to-business venture.

Venture capital firm eCompanies is gearing up for a June launch of its much ballyhooed business-to-business venture Business.com, which will provide companies with industry-specific information, like news, market data and other online services.

The launch comes months after eCompanies named former Wall Street Journal Los Angeles bureau chief Peter Gumbel as editor in chief of Business.com, which first gained notoriety in November when the start-up incubator said it paid $7.5 million for the Business.com domain name.

eCompanies was founded by former Disney Net chief Jake Winebaum and EarthLink co-founder Sky Dayton.

The name Business.com was purchased by an unnamed entity for $150,000 through a company called idNames.com. eCompanies bought the domain name from Marc Ostrofsky, a Houston-based entrepreneur. Ostrofsky became an adviser to the company through the purchase. Winebaum has since served as interim chief executive of Business.com.

The company's executives are touting the new company as the single site for business information on the Internet.

"This will be the definitive destination for businesses on the Internet," said Jim McGovern, president and general manager of Business.com. "In one place, we will have any scrap of information on any industry...and company we cover."

Analysts say the new company is attempting to mirror the Yahoo Internet business sites. "This is a great goal for them, but there is room for only one of these in the market," said Tim Clark, an analyst with Jupiter Communications. "It's a one-company industry, just like for Yahoo. There will be strong competition in this market for that position."

Clark said Yahoo and Excite, both traditional business-to-consumer portals, are developing their own business-to-business information sites that will compete directly with Business.com.

Since its inception last summer, eCompanies has churned out several companies through its incubator program. These include eParties.com, launched last fall; online photo processing service ememories.com; and animation site Icebox.com. The company has also taken stakes in start-ups such as Craftopia.com and eHobbies.com.

Although Business.com will not directly handle online transactions between suppliers and manufacturers, the site will integrate tightly with its sister site Change.com, also an eCompanies start-up, which supports its online commerce transactions.

McGovern said companies that want to sell or buy goods will be able to link through Business.com to Change.com and do their transactions there. "This is part of the larger vision we have for Business.com. It won't be able to happen at launch time, but it will be possible for companies to come to Business.com, go to a specific industry, pick a specific company, then get passed over to Change.com to purchase products."

With such tight integration between Business.com and Change.com, Clark said he wonders why eCompanies has decided to keep the two companies separate. "It's not clear why they are two different companies. I wouldn't be surprised if they merge the two further down the line."

Combining the two companies would also help broaden Business.com's revenue stream, which right now is based on advertising sales, by bringing in revenues from transaction fees generated on Change.com.