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.
The company's next step is to introduce its product on cell phones with Web access, Goldin said.
Elite.com is also developing a suite of online business software to accompany its Timesolv product. The second service, which Goldin would only describe as "more detailed project management," is going to into beta testing in October and will launch in December.
Best Buy, E! Online Team Up
E! Online, the online entertainment news and features offshoot of E! Networks, will boost its e-commerce offerings through a new deal with BestBuy.com Inc.
"E! Online has always done editorial content very well," said Edward Zarcoff, general manager of E! Online. "We were dipping our toes into retail and e-commerce. To do well in e-commerce, you have to make significant capital investments, and have that corporate history in terms of retail experience. That's what we're hoping to get from Best Buy."
Through the deal, E! Online will use BestBuy.com as its exclusive e-commerce partner for the shop.eonline.com feature, where the site currently sells licensed merchandise associated with films, television and music. The two companies are hammering out decisions about which specific items will be featured from Best Buy, but the new shopping feature will include more items than a person would expect from the chain store, Zarcoff said.
Also, BestBuy.com will have access to E! Online's entertainment news and features to supplement its own entertainment-related merchandise.
"There's going to be a co-branded editorial area that'll have E! Online content," Zarcoff explained. "This is really secondary. They're a retail site. This is just a way to round out the experience."
BestBuy.com is the online subsidiary of the Minneapolis-based consumer electronics and entertainment products giant Best Buy Co. Inc.
E! Online, at www.eonline.com, attracted 4 million unique visitors this July, making it one of L.A.'s most visited sites.
One-Stop Real Estate Shop
Homestore.com has launched a joint venture with five of the country's top moving companies, the first comprehensive effort by the moving industry to allow customers to get estimates and quotes online.
The new iMove.com Inc. has been in the works for more than a year. Executives at moving information Web site Homefair.com had been pondering such services, when the company was acquired by the Thousand Oaks-based Homestore.
"We've always had the industry relationships and contacts," said Bryan Schutjer, president of iMove and head of Homefair. "We just needed the critical mass that Homestore brings."
By the end of the first quarter of 2001, the company plans to release software that will help consumers determine how much moving-van capacity they need, based on the size of their current homes, the amount of time they've been accumulating stuff, and other data.
To accompany this product, iMove is also developing a system to come up with a total price quote based on the estimate generated by the above software, the dates and distance of the move, and the availability of the thousands of agents working for the five companies involved.
For now, the company's efforts are simpler.
"Right now, iMove.com is a great place to locate and identify moving companies that can handle your move within those five van lines," said Schutjer, who has 14-years of experience in the van line industry.
Thumbing through the phone book and getting estimates from a variety of sometimes-unknown companies is how most people plan their moves. iMove allows customers to find out which van lines travel to the destination they're moving to and have the capacity to carry their belongings.
Until the estimating software is up and running in the first quarter of next year, the selected company will send someone in person to do a physical survey and price estimate.
Laura Dunphy is a staff reporter at the Los Angeles Business Journal and can be reached at email@example.com.
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