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PointCast to Offer Internet Shopping Service

Technology: Online information provider broadening business to expand customer base.

October 29, 1998|From Bloomberg News

PointCast Inc., which broadcasts information and advertisements over the Internet, said it will unveil a shopping service for users today in an effort to expand its offerings and retain customers.

PointCast said it will unveil an electronic-commerce service called MarketPlace, where users can find links to buy computer hardware, books or other merchandise. PointCast said its MarketPlace Web site will be sponsored by Visa. It has also struck partnerships with Amazon.com Inc.'s Junglee shopping service, Compare.net, and Impulse Buy Network, which will all participate on MarketPlace.

PointCast, which was a pioneer of so-called push technology used to send news and stock quotes directly to computer users, canceled its plans for an initial public offering in July to seek "strategic alternatives." The company is focusing on offering a wide range of services to users to gain new subscribers to its online service and retain existing customers.

"What drives value for us is the number of viewers we have and the number of viewers we retain," said Bob Sofman, senior vice president of marketing, business development and international operations. "This is about continuing to expand our service."

MarketPlace is a part of PointCast's revamped Web site that offers business resources. Analysts hailed the new electronic-commerce service as a good step for the company.

"PointCast sees an opportunity to turn its users into online consumers," said analyst Ron Rappaport of Zona Research Inc.

The company said its advertising sponsors for MarketPlace include Acura, Barnesandnoble.com, Compaq Computer Corp., Continental Airlines, Gateway Inc., Mercedes-Benz of North America Inc., Microsoft Corp. and Toshiba.

Internet users who don't subscribe to PointCast can also access the new Web sites at http://www.entrypoint.com or http://www.entrypoint.com/marketplace.

Sofman also said Pointcast is in talks with a company or several companies about a possible acquisition or partnership. He declined to be more specific.

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