How much money is a group of eight letters and numbers worth? Apparently $1 million, when they are

Idealab, the Pasadena incubator of high-tech companies, sold the Internet domain name to a London company for $1 million in cash and equity last week. The buyer, a firm called Media Ltd., owns price comparison sites and

About $200,000 of the purchase price was in cash. The remaining $800,000 was in equity, giving Idealab a 7 percent stake in the company. Bill Gross, chief executive of Idealab, will also join Media’s advisory board.

Idealab acquired the domain name in May 1998. An Idealab spokeswoman declined to reveal how much was paid, but said it was “substantially less” than $1 million. She added that Idealab has no specific plans for the cash.

Idealab owns about 1,000 domain names, presumably related to companies its executives have started or could start in the future.

The $1 million price tag may sound hefty for an Internet address. But in-demand domain names routinely sell for millions of dollars. Earlier this year, sold for $1 million in cash, said Andrew Allemann, editor of domain industry Web site

Last year’s biggest domain name sale was, which was bought by Toys “R” Us for $5.1 million. That sale also had a connection to Idealab: The company that originally owned was an Idealab spinoff called eToys. EToys went bankrupt in the dot-com crash and was sold to KB Toys.

Launching Companies

Launchpad L.A., a mentoring group designed to help executives at startup firms is accepting applications for its second class of entrepreneurs.

Founded last year by Mark Suster at Century City venture capital firm GRP Partners, Launchpad is looking for 10 budding entrepreneurs who want to mingle with experienced executives and venture capitalists in Los Angeles. The group only accepts applications from companies that are based in Los Angeles County or those that plan to move to Los Angeles. Applicants won’t be considered if they have raised more than $1 million in funding, or any money from a venture capital firm.

The 10 entrepreneurs who are selected for Launchpad will be able to tap 30 to 40 mentors for guidance. The mentors will include top executives at prominent local tech companies, such as Matt Coffin, founder of, and Adam Bain, a president at Fox Interactive Media.

Launchpad will also organize seminars for the 10 that will cover raising venture capital, building an executive team and fostering relationships with corporate clients, among other topics.

“Basically, the goal is help the most promising L.A. startup companies become more successful,” said Suster, who is running the program with Adam Lilling, co-founder and chief executive of L.A.-based Internet TV advertising firm BiggerBoat, and Joshua Roth, president and chief executive of Brentwood-based mobile applications company Amuzu Inc.

Suster said he also hoped to bring prominent venture capitalists and executives from Silicon Valley to Los Angeles to talk to the group, and to arrange visits to large Internet companies outside of Los Angeles such as Facebook Inc. in Palo Alto.

The inaugural class of 13 entrepreneurs completed the program late last year. One of the 13, Michael Fisher, chief executive of L.A.-based cloud computing company ElephantDrive Inc., said sharing ideas, trading notes and networking with like-minded entrepreneurs and mentors was helpful.

“There’s now this small group I can go to and say, ‘Does anyone know anyone at this company or at that company?’” Fisher said. “There are some things that could turn into a real material benefit for my company that are attributable to Launchpad.”

Applications for the program are due at the end of the first week in April.

Material Cash

Materia Inc., a chemical catalyst company based in Pasadena, raised $11.7 million from investors, according to documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission last week.

A Caltech spinoff founded by Nobel Prize-winning chemist Robert Grubbs, Materia holds hundreds of patents related to metathesis, a chemical process that allows rearrangement of carbon bonds. The company uses the technology to develop special kinds of plastics, pharmaceutical products and chemicals. Two years ago, for example, Materia worked with the military to develop fire-resistant fuel.

Materia did not disclose who its recent investors were or what it intends to do with the money. The company had raised $8.8 million in 2005, according to documents. In April 2008, Materia raised $40 million for a spinoff company, Elevance Renewable Sciences Inc., a startup that specializes in renewable oils made from soy, canola and corn.

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