E-mail directory launches

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A San Francisco start-up called Topica unveiled an e-mail directory service Feb. 23 that attempts to harness the estimated 15 million to 20 million people who subscribe to these groups. Topica hopes to support its service, which offers free software and support for companies and individuals looking to start e-mail lists, with direct marketing and advertising. Founder Ariel Poler said the company is collecting information on more than 150,000 e-mail lists. It will support the site with advertising and through separate commercial e-mail lists that it will create covering specific categories. Marketers will be able send marketing messages inside these opt-in lists. The lists give users the ability to control how, when and if they want to receive e-mail marketing messages. Mr. Poler said while it's had discussions with numerous agencies and clients, it doesn't yet have any advertisers. ``We want to grow our traffic to a certain critical mass,'' Mr. Poler said, adding that because this space has been fairly noncommercial. ``We're starting very gradually and carefully.''

Copyright February 1999, Crain Communications Inc.

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