L.A. is getting yet another entertainment Web site, but this one hopes its memorable name will distinguish it from the pack not to mention help it avoid the fate of some of its flailing brethren.

In development since early this year, all-purpose television site Television.com will begin beta testing this month. The Santa Monica-based company plans to officially launch Aug. 16.

Unlike some sites that have launched with a splash after months of secrecy (Business.com comes to mind), Television.com is touting in advance the features that will be available on the site.

Through original content and links to other sites, Television.com will allow viewers to preview clips from current and past shows and commercials, buy books and other television-related goodies, and even watch original TV-like entertainment content.

With so many entertainment sites already on the scene, and with so many of those struggling to survive as the market turns cold on dot-coms, Television.com is not launching at the best of times. It does, however, have a name that everybody can relate to.

"With Television.com, we have a brand name that only needs to be seen or heard one time to be remembered forever," said Andrew Miller, president of Marketvision Direct Inc.

Boston-based Marketvision joined with Steeplechase Media, based in Santa Monica, to co-found the new company.

The firm's management team has significant television experience, including CEO Larry Namer, one of the original founders of E! Entertainment Television, and vice president of content Jill Schwartz, who helped develop shows such as "Family Feud" and "What's My Line?"

Whirlwind Deal for Tornado

Who says there's a tech shakeout? A few local high-tech companies continue to win enormous rounds of venture capital funding.

Tornado Development, an El Segundo-based company offering "unified messaging" technology, will announce June 12 that it has received $30 million in funding from various sources.

Unified messaging is a system that collects all messages voicemail, e-mail, faxes and pages and allows them to be accessed through just one of those formats. For example, the system will convert text messages into a voice message that can be accessed through a voicemail box. Or, a user can check all messages via e-mail, because the system can convert voicemails and other messages into text.

Tornado Development does not offer these services to individual end users. Instead, it is providing the technology to large businesses (such as telephone companies or Internet service providers) that in turn offer the services to individuals.

"This capital infusion will assist in our commitment to pushing our technology forward, expanding our global business, and growing our organization," said Jeff Scheinrock, chief executive of Tornado. "We're going to increase our presence globally."

The company plans to open an office in Hong Kong in August, and will have a London location by the end of the year. Tornado has also begun working in Singapore.

"We're focused on everywhere," Scheinrock said. "Our product works over the Internet, so it truly is a global product. And the primary target (end user) is business travelers, who travel all over the country and the world."

In addition to expanding and accelerating its technology, Tornado will also add sales, marketing and development staff to introduce its product to more potential clients.

Investors participating in Tornado's new, large round of funding include QuestMark/Invus Partners, Global Crossing Ltd., Intel Corp. and venture capital firm Ares.

L.A. IPOs

Two local companies are expected to price their initial public offerings over the next two weeks, but whether they actually go public remains to be seen, with so many companies postponing entering the market because of turbulent conditions.

Rediff.com India Ltd., a Los Angeles-based site focused on India and Indian culture, has plans to price its stock this week. According to its filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the company plans to sell 4.6 million shares at $10 to $12 each. The business is hoping to raise up to $75 million in the offering.

The company's site, at www.Rediff.com, is a portal that offers e-commerce, news and other information targeted to the Indian community. The site is available for viewing in several Indian dialects.

Meanwhile, during the week of June 19, motion picture distributor Artisan Entertainment Inc. plans to offer 6 million shares at $16 to $18 each. The Santa Monica-based company is hoping to generate up to $140 million through the offering.

Staff reporter Laura Dunphy can be reached at ldunphy@labusinessjournal.com.

L.A. Web Review

Father's Day is just around the corner, and with so many e-commerce sites, it should be easy to find a unique gift, right? Alas, books and CDs from Amazon.com seem to be replacing the necktie as the same-old, same-old annual gift for dear ol' dad.

Los Angeles-based Style365.com, an all-purpose fashion and lifestyle site, has a special Father's Day feature that combines ease of use with a high-variety selection. Click on "Directory Search," and up pops a box touting the site's special guide of links to other sites with ideal Father's Day offerings, from gadgets to clothing. Simply search the term "Fathers Day" and the entire gift guide appears.

In the Father's Day guide, Style365.com offers links to everything from the high-end gadget shop Hammacher Schlemmer, to long-time Hawaiian shirt shop Reyn Spooner, and seafood seller Legal Sea Foods, among dozens of other clothing and lifestyle retailers.

The advantage of using Style365.com, as opposed to a plain old search engine, is its ease of use. Detailed descriptions of various fashion and lifestyle sites highlight their most compelling features. That way, a user can tell which sites match dad's interests even if he wants yet another tie.

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