Deutsch to cash in on Business.com

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Business.com, a financial Web site backed by one of the nation's largest Internet start-up incubators, is close to signing Deutsch, Marina del Rey, Calif., as its first agency. Spending on the account is anticipated to be as high as $50 million.

A business-to-business site offering content and e-commerce, Business.com is one of more than a half-dozen start-ups backed by eCompanies. The site will go head-to-head with popular business portal Yahoo! Finance, according to an eCompanies spokesman.

Business.com will target a broad scope of business people, from independent consultants and entrepreneurs to executives at all management levels. It will be "the defin- itive resource for business people," according to the spokesman, offering everything from lifestyle articles to ratings of machinery and technologies.

For Deutsch, the win puts billings for its Marina del Rey office at more than $400 million. The shop, anchored with the $300 million Mitsubishi Motor Sales of America account, most recently picked up Microsoft Corp.'s $50 million Expedia business.

ECompanies was established last June by Sky Dayton, co-founder of Internet service provider EarthLink Network, and Jake Winebaum, former chairman of Walt Disney Co.'s Buena Vista Internet Group and president of Disney Online.

The Internet venture fund raised more than $100 million within a few months of launch from investors including venture capital company Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. as well as Disney and EarthLink. Other gestating start-ups include eHobbies, eMemories, eParties and Craftopia.

To get rights to the name Business.com, eCompanies paid $7.5 million to a Houston entrepreneur who had originally purchased the name for $150,000 in 1996.

Earlier this month, it hired Peter Gumbel, former Los Angeles bureau chief of The Wall Street Journal, to be Business.com's editor in chief. The company spokesman said they have also hired a new marketing director.

JOCKEYING TO BE LEADER

Business.com is just one of several sites jockeying to become the leading business portal, and tap into the Web's burgeoning business-to-business market. Last week, Excite@Home combined its business-to-business division, which launched Work.com for small- and medium-sized business, with Dow Jones & Co.'s dowjones.com, a vertical portal for small business users. The combined site, keeping the Work.com name, will utilize Dow Jones content and launch later this year.

Others plying the space include VerticalNet, which offers targeted content and sites aimed at specific industries; and small-business sites SmartAge.com and inc.com.

The Gartner Group predicts worldwide business-to-business e-commerce spending will grow to $7.3 trillion by 2004, from $145 billion last year.

In North America, it said spending is expected to grow to $2.8 trillion, from $91 billion.

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