The Hollywood Stock Exchange has merged with New York-based Predict It, and HSX Chief Executive Andy Kaplan will step down when the merger goes through, the company announced last week.

HSX made waves with Web junkies for its addictive online "stock market" that allows users to trade shares of "stock" in celebrities and other entertainment properties. Predict It offers software that tracks users' projections on who will win sporting events, and allows rewards to be given out based on accuracy. Hence, the two companies seem like a natural fit.

Executives at both companies were unavailable for comment on the deal. A release on the merger said that a group of institutional investors would pour $10 million into the merged company once the deal has closed.

Though HSX definitely attracted a base of users to its Web site, its free games caused many analysts to wonder how the company would make money.

Web Time Management

Elite.com Inc. has penned a deal with Palm Inc. to offer its time and billing tracking software to Palm's Web-connected customers.

"We are the first and only, to date, application of this kind on the Palm network," said Mark Goldin, president of Los Angeles-based Elite.com.

Through the deal with Palm, users who own a Palm with Internet connection capability can keep track of every minute they bill to clients, plus expenses and invoices and other tracking features.

The program targets small businesses that bill clients in time increments. Smaller consultant-type firms can be overwhelmed by the time and energy needed to keep track of billing and expenses, and outsourcing such services can be expensive.

Elite.com's Timesolv program, through the Internet, allows multiple employees to enter their own individual billing and invoice data. Data from several employees can then be consolidated into either single or separate client bills. The program also keeps track of all entries, giving companies the information they need to conduct meaningful audits.

"This (deal with Palm) gives people real-time access to their data from anywhere. They can write down every minute they billed in the cab after a client meeting or on the corner waiting for the cab," Goldin explained. "That translates into faster invoices and increased cash flow."

Timesolv, launched in January, is the company's first product. Palm users can connect to Timesolv for free through the Palm.net Web site. (The software can also be accessed through the Elite.com Web site or select handheld Web portals.) Users must, however, sign up as a Timesolv member to use the product, for a cost of $9.95 per month.

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