Dog gone: Pets.com shuts down

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Pets.com is shutting down after failing to raise new capital or to sell the company. The pets supply e-tailer plans to sell its assets, including its URL and Sock Puppet icon, which made its debut as the "Talking Pets.com Sock Puppet'' Nov. 2 at high-end toy retailer FAO Schwarz. The company, which acquired competitor Petstore.com in July, is immediately laying off 255 of its 320 employees; customers are being referred to its Web page for information about outstanding orders and refunds. The closure came after a lengthy effort to both raise capital or to sell the company. Out of more than 50 prospects contacted by Merrill Lynch & Co., fewer than eight were prepared to visit with the dot-com. Pets.com, the subject of a major story in Advertising Age Aug. 7, was lauded as creating the first stand-out advertising celebrity in dot-com land with the Sock Puppet. The puppet, created by TBWA/Chiat/Day, San Francisco, has appeared in 13 TV spots, including a $2 million commercial on the Super Bowl. It was a featured float in last year's Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade; it is unclear whether the Sock Puppet will be in this year's parade or whether the new toy will continue to be sold through the holiday period. Pets.com outspent the competition to establish its brand, spending nearly $20 million alone in the first quarter of 2000, according to Competitive Media Reporting. Pets.com shares closed Nov. 7 at 22 cents, off 67%, after hitting a low of 6 cents.

Copyright November 2000, Crain Communications Inc.

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