C-Net Gathers More Ad Dollars from Multiple Web Sites

By Mike Allen N. Y. Times News Service | THE JOURNAL RECORD, October 3, 1996 | Go to article overview

C-Net Gathers More Ad Dollars from Multiple Web Sites


Mike Allen N. Y. Times News Service, THE JOURNAL RECORD


The Internet address is taut and memorable: www.news.com.

News.Com, a technology news service introduced in September, is the latest outpost of C-Net: the Computer Network, whose young entrepreneurs are seeding the World Wide Web with sites that use simple names to lure traffic.

C-Net has already started services called TV.Com, Search.Com and Shareware.Com. Coming soon are Help.Com, Download.Com, BuyDirect.Com and GameCenter.Com. The company also owns the Web addresses ending in radio.com, gaming.com and community.com. C-Net, which has 250 employees and is based in San Francisco, has proved to be among the most nimble of the Internet companies scrambling to build brand names for the next century. In addition to the catchy Web addresses, it has hit on a second tactic: opening lots of smaller sites instead of building one huge one. Advertisers can be sold space on more than one site, and visitors are likely to spend more time with C-Net if they can bounce from site to site. "The more pages you turn, the more money we make," said Matthew W. Barzun, 25, the company's vice president for software services. "But people won't dig that deep in one site." C-Net is spinning off sites for the same reason that the potato chip maker Frito-Lay offers Baked Lay's, Wavy Lay's, Salt and Vinegar Lay's, Flamin' Hot Lay's, Sour Cream and Onion Lay's and K.C. Masterpiece Barbecue Lay's: You may buy fewer original Lay's, but at least you're not eating Pringles. With its distinctive pages and mustard-colored borders, C-Net is well known on-line, but remains invisible to most of the public. So the generic, obvious addresses help the company compete with sites from such household names as NBC, USA Today, a Gannett Co. property, and The New York Times. "If you named a site Supernova.Com, it would take a tremendous amount of money to make people aware of it," said C-Net's 31-year- old founder, Halsey M. Minor. "But if you call it Shareware.Com, you avoid a lot of that cost. People know they'll find software there." C-Net Inc. went public in July, set on becoming the first publishing empire with no paper products except stock certificates. Besides Web sites, it produces three cable television programs about computers and the Internet, and has syndicated a new show called -- what else? -- TV.Com in major markets. For now, the future is expensive: C-Net has lost more than $20 million since it was founded in 1992. The company, backed in part by Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft, lost $4.3 million, or 47 cents a share, in the second quarter, widening its loss from $2.8 million, or 31 cents a share, in the comparable quarter of 1995. But revenue, all of which came from advertising, tripled -- to $2.6 million. Minor, who is chairman and chief executive, was worth nearly $60 million on paper the day company went public, as the stock jumped as high as $21.25 a share from the initial offering price of $16. The stock closed last week at $19.125, and his holdings now approach $50 million in value. Minor said C-Net was on track to meet analysts' projections that the company would turn a profit in the third quarter of 1997. Several industry analysts said they were intrigued by another of Minor's ideas: attracting people to the Web by promoting C-Net's proliferating sites on its television show. …

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