Magazine article Information Today

NewsNet Succumbs to the Net

Magazine article Information Today

NewsNet Succumbs to the Net

Article excerpt

On August 4, NewsNet announced it would cease provision of access to the NewsNet database on August 31 and close all operations within 60 days. The company had struggled for several months to find a buyer, but failing that, the closely held private company that started NewsNet 15 years ago decided to close it down. The low-profile family-controlled parent company owns a number of other successful businesses, primarily in newspaper publishing and commercial printing. Maybe the company contemplated the Knight-Ridder/DIALOG decision in coming to this judgment.

Andrew Elston, NewsNet president since 1992, said: "Marketplace pressures have made it increasingly difficult for a small, value-added proprietary online database company to prosper and grow as in prior years. . . The advent of the Internet, and especially the World Wide Web, has facilitated direct publisher-touser communication, effectively diminishing the value of a centralized database."

The shock of closing down an industry pioneer reverberated through the 30-person company, most of whom were unaware of the effort to sell, and many of whom were loyal employees of nine or 10 years. Popular opinion has it that NewsNet employees were some of the best in the information business. The shock then reverberated through the information industry, as other companies contemplated their own struggles against the forces of the Net and realized it might be the start of a trend.

The news seemed especially ironic following the reports in June of a happy celebration of the 15th anniversary of NewsNet, marked by honoring eight original newsletter publishers for their participation. In addition, last March NewsNet had announced a strategic alliance with Knowledge Express Data Systems, a suburban Philadelphia neighbor known for its extensive tech transfer information. What seemed to be such a good partner for complementary content is now reportedly in difficulty as well, and it is publicly for sale. Other companies, some small like Telebase, others large like CompuServe, continue to struggle against market forces.

NewsNet was a pioneer in delivering online business newsletters, and it even weathered a challenge when Predicasts started its Newsletter database. …

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