Internet.com, the information technology Web portal with the enviable URL, is expanding its offline business to provide face-to-face opportunities to b-to-b marketers.
On Aug. 22, Internet.com Corp. will hold its first U.S. breakfast forum aimed at IT professionals. "Navigating the New Internet Job Market" will be held in Boston and is sponsored by Deloitte & Touche L.L.P. Additional forums are scheduled in Boston on Sept. 26 and Oct. 24, New York on Sept. 7 and Seattle on Sept. 27.
New York-based Inter-net.com plans to launch a series of regularly scheduled forums in 35 cities around the globe by the end of the year, said Alan Meckler, chairman-CEO of Internet.com. The first forum, "The Future of Internet Advertising," took place in Hong Kong on Aug. 1.
"In Hong Kong we had about 175 people show up for something that was announced only two weeks before," Meckler said. "The networking was going on long after we officially shut down the room."
The forums are designed to provide an offline meeting place for the virtual community created on Internet.com, Meckler said. Internet.com's forums will be free to the IT community and the media and will generate revenue via sponsorships and table-top exhibits.
"We were in the black already, and quite frankly we didn't even try," Meckler said of the Hong Kong forum.
No trade show plans
Internet.com also produces seminars such as Search Engine Strategies 2000, to be held in San Francisco today, and Bot 2000, to be held in New York on Sept. 13.
It has no plans to move into trade shows, Meckler said. One reason is that the forums require virtually no marketing expenditures: All promotion is done through the Internet.com portal. "Our margins are much higher than they ever were in the trade show business," Meckler said.
Another reason Internet.com will refrain from entering the trade show business is its noncompete agreement with Penton Media Inc., which owns Internet World magazine and trade show, thanks to its acquisition of Meckler's Mecklermedia Corp. in 1998.
Internet.com also has no plans to move into print. "To me, the future is online," Meckler said.
Even limited by noncompete agreements, Meckler has found a way to diversify Internet.com and to create numerous revenue streams.
"The challenge of any original content developer is trying to create as much value as possible from that original content," said Abhishek Gami, an analyst at William Blair & Co. "When you slaughter that cow, you get the milk, you skin it to get the leather and you butcher it to get the meat. This dot-com company does that extremely well. They know how to generate lots of revenue streams."
The breakfast forums are one of the diversified revenue streams. Internet.com has diversified in many other ways. It has 126 Web sites and 177 e-mail newsletters. The company has 17 international properties, including sites devoted to Australia and Taiwan.
Internet.com's revenues increased 323% to $12.2 million in the second quarter, from $2.9 million in the same period last year. Its net loss, however, widened to $4.4 million, from $1.5 million a year earlier.