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PDQuick Failing, Trying to Stay Afloat, Execs Say

April 25, 2001|MELINDA FULMER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Delivery firm PDQuick.com, formerly known as Pink Dot, could cease operations in the next week, company executives acknowledged. It would be the last of the major Internet-based instant delivery services to go under.

Kozmo.com, its largest national rival, closed its doors April 11 after merger talks with Camarillo-based PDQuick broke off because funding for the deal failed to materialize. Urbanfetch closed last year.

PDQuick employees were told last week that the firm could be shutting its doors in five to 10 days, a move that would affect 70 people at company headquarters and several hundred drivers and others at its mini-warehouses.

Dan Frederickson, PDQuick chief executive, said Tuesday that the company might be able to stay afloat. It is trying to obtain funding for an employee buyout of the firm and is negotiating with an independent operator that wants to purchase the company's seven profitable delivery warehouses in affluent pockets of Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley.

"We want to see if there's a way that a group of employees can buy the company and carry it on further," Frederickson said.

PDQuick's board will make a decision on these proposals this week. However, Frederickson said the board also could decide to liquidate and sell off its proprietary software systems and other assets.

Pink Dot delivered snacks, prepared meals, liquor and magazines to Los Angeles-area customers for about 14 years. It was relaunched as PDQuick last year, and Frederickson, a Kinkos veteran, was recruited as CEO in an attempt to expand nationally.

The company had built a loyal following and had achieved profitability. But like most others in the niche, it tried to expand too quickly, branching out into Orange County and the South Bay, markets where it foundered.

Developing a market for these services takes time, analysts say. "I think it's fairly clear that the Internet and instant gratification are not yet ready for each other," said Ken Cassar, a senior research analyst with Jupiter Communications. "The mass market is not ready to pay the substantial premium that is necessary" to support these services.

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