Once hot Third Voice seems about to fizzle 
Once a company hot enough to make the cover of Fortune magazine,
Third Voice appears to have shut down for lack of cash. Founded by entrepreneurs from Singapore and based in Silicon Valley, Third Voice specialized in virtual Post-It notes that could be superimposed over a web site’s content. It was an idea that some at the time believed might change the face of the web forever. But the concept never really caught fire. Ideally applied, it was a way for people to share their ideas about a web site’s content. But it too often degenerated into a platform for defamatory graffiti. Plus, only users who actively sought out and downloaded the Third Voice software could see Third Voice posts. While the company originally touted its potential as an advertising vehicle, that fell flat because of the generally uncontrollable atmosphere the technology presented. Now Third Voice is said to be seeking a buyer while the founders keep the company in a sort of suspended animation. When--or if--it reemerges, they say they will  focus on business-to-business services. 

NOW is launching its own ISP
The National Organization for Women has announced that it will begin selling its own internet access services starting in May. The announcement comes as a response to hateful and abusive messages that have plagued the organization's message boards and chat rooms. Such postings have sometimes all but overwhelmed the messages of the women seeking community online; the organization hopes that charging $19.95 a month for the privilege of accessing the forums will keep hate-mongers away. For the price of the subscription, users will get full internet service, up to five email addresses and access to NOW’s new web site, NOWworld.org, and the message boards and chat rooms therein. NOW’s posting policy forbids posts that are "knowingly false and/or defamatory, inaccurate, abusive, vulgar, hateful, harassing, obscene, profane, sexually oriented, threatening, invasive of a person's privacy, or otherwise violative of any law." But the rather specific policy has not in the past discouraged the organization’s detractors, one of whom registered under as many as 20 different handles and posted as many as 800 messages a day. The fee is structured in a way that might discourage affluent NOW foes: $2 of it goes to NOW.

Electronics retailer Outpost.com cuts staff in reorg
Online consumer electronics and computer accessories vendor Outpost.com has laid off 30 percent of its staff. That amounts to 110 members of its workforce. Additionally, it has named a new president and CEO. Its founder and chairman, Darryl Peck, will assume the positions. He replaces Katherine N. Vick, who had been in the head slot only since November. She had replaced Robert A. Bowman when he left to take over Major League Baseball’s new media unit. At the same time, Vick and another board member resigned from Outpost's board of directors. Outpost, which lost $10.1 million in the fourth quarter, says it plans to concentrate on business-to-consumer electronics sales. Outpost’s full name is Cyberian Outpost, reflecting its roots as one of the first e-commerce companies. The company launched in 1995. Outpost’s Nasdaq symbol may be COOL, but its stock price is anything but: It closed at 13 cents on Thursday.

EarthWeb is changing its name to Dice Inc.
EarthWeb plans to change its name to Dice Inc., because the one-time tech content company now concentrates on its Dice.com jobs and careers site. EarthWeb sold its 14 tech support and training content sites to Internet.com late last year. As part of the deal, EarthWeb said it would adjust its name by the end of 2001. EarthWeb retained Dice and Measure Up, a site that offers guidance for people training for technology jobs such as Microsoft-certified engineering. Dice.com was launched in 1990 as a jobs bulletin board. Currently, it lists about 96,000 jobs, off from the 120,000 that were listed in January. While the spate of dot.com layoffs initially helped job and career sites like Dice.com, that has backfired. Since so many technology workers have been laid off, companies are finding that they can spend less on recruiting. Thus two top job sites, HotJobs.coms and Vault.com, have undergone layoffs of their own.

Yahoo: We're now big on public service ads
It turns out that the anti-hate banners that began running on Yahoo.com last week in support of Tolerance.org are part of a larger effort on the part of the giant portal to support charitable causes with public service announcements. Four other causes have been targeted besides racial tolerance--environment, closing the digital divide, disaster relief and AIDS. The causes were chosen because of their importance to Yahoo employees and users, according to the company, which claims that its deal with Tolerance.org is unrelated to the flak it has taken for allowing the establishment of white-supremacist discussion boards. Ads supporting Tolerance.org, a web site operated by the Southern Poverty Law Center, are triggered in some cases when web users search for certain keywords. The additional causes are expected to receive $3 million worth of ads over the next five years, similar to the Tolerance.org deal. Much of the donated ad space will be in Yahoo’s channels for news, parenting and children.

Ellis Island posts immigration lists on web site
Ellis Island, the first stop on U.S. soil for millions of Americans’ immigrant ancestors, is expected today to release on its web site the passenger records for some 17 million immigrants. Ellis Island has set up a web site, ellisislandrecords.org, that will feature digitized versions of microfilm copies of the original documents. The passenger records, or manifests, are documents that list immigrants’ names and other data such as gender and nationality. For a small, yet-undisclosed fee, site visitors can receive printouts of their ancestors’ records and reproductions of the original manifests. Up to 5,000 people a day passed through the island’s gates in its heyday, which lasted from 1892 to 1924. The web site posts documents from that span of time. Some of the information is typed, while some is handwritten. The Mormon Church, which is known for its genealogy expertise, helped with the project.

April 17, 2001 © 2001 Media Life



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