Bill Gross was one of the first to do it. Then came Jake Winebaum and Sky Dayton. And now David Bohnett, founder of GeoCities, is doing it too.

Getting into incubators, that is.

Bohnett has just joined the board and made an investment into Bold New World, a fledgling Internet incubator in Los Angeles.

Why the recent frenzy surrounding Internet-related incubators?

"Incubators are not all that different than the other venture capital activity that has been going on," Bohnett said. "It just has a bit more sexy spin. We'll probably see incubators emerge with distinct styles and geared toward different industries."

Bohnett's relationship with Bold New World is a six-degrees-of-separation tale. Originally an Internet services company, Bold New World was spun out of Bohnett's first start-up, Beverly Hills Internet Co. Though GeoCities understandably dominated Bohnett's attention, he stayed in informal contact with the spin-off, occasionally referring interesting Internet deals to it.

Now that it has become an incubator, Bold New World has recently hatched its first venture, an L.A.-based e-commerce and information company called PLAN4ever.com. Several more hatchlings are in the pipeline, according to Bold New World Chief Executive Stuart Miller.

After the sale of GeoCities to Yahoo! last May, Bohnett took a brief vacation before jumping back into the fray. He's currently a principal (and founder) of Culver City-based Baroda Ventures LLC, a board member for Santa Monica-based Stamps.com and Westlake Village-based NetZero, and executive director of a non-profit activist organization called the David Bohnett Foundation.

"I can't not be involved," he said, somewhat ruefully.

Job sitings

Los Angeles-based CareerPath.com, which started off as a modest online job-listing company geared toward recent college graduates, has managed to pull off steady, significant growth.

It's the No. 1 online career site in terms of job listings (currently with 40,000 postings, a 35 percent increase in postings from last year).

"We've become a career management site rather than just a job-listing spot, consequently expanding from focusing on entry-level positions to all kinds," said spokeswoman Jenny Connelly. "Also, more companies are listing positions solely online (rather than in newspapers) as they realize that it is a more efficient recruiting cost."

CareerPath.com remains the No. 2 job site in terms of visitors, dogging the heels of Monster.com. To remedy that situation, CareerPath is gearing up for an advertising blitz this fall.

Virtual holidays

The bevy of local e-commerce companies, such as eToys and Cooking.com in Santa Monica, have already shifted into high gear to prepare for the upcoming orgiastic gift-buying frenzy otherwise known as the holiday season.

They're hurrying to upgrade their system software to make sure their sites can handle a huge amount of online traffic without crashing. They're also increasing their inventories to make sure they don't run out of product during the critical selling season.

Jupiter Communications projects that online sales for this November and December will total $5 billion, double last year's $2.6 billion yield for those months. Rival analyst company Dataquest is shooting higher in its estimates, predicting that consumers will shell out over $12 billion online this holiday season.

News and notes

Cyrano Sciences Inc., the Pasadena biotech company developing electronic noses capable of identifying objects through synthesized "sniffing," has received a significant investment from leading medical diagnostic tool developer Welch Allyn Inc. The companies signed a licensing and development agreement for new medical products based on Cyrano's electronic nose, including one that can help diagnose diseases by sniffing and identifying chemical components in a patient's breath and bodily fluids. Details regarding the size of the investment were not disclosed.

In the "size matters" school of the Web, Ticketmaster Online-CitySearch has joined a new consortium formed to challenge eBay's virtual stranglehold on the online auction scene. CitySearch, Microsoft and Excite@Home have teamed with Woburn, Mass.-based auction service provider FairMarket to cross-list and cross-promote each other's auctions. The consortium claims to be able to reach more than 46 million visitors, or 73.3 percent of all Internet users, far outpacing eBay's reach.

Contributing Columnist Sara Fisher writes a weekly technology column for the Los Angeles Business Journal.

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