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August 26, 1996


By CBR Staff Writer

While most firms are trying to make money from moving content to the Web, start-up MarketScape Inc is going retro and putting Web content back on a now almost old-fashioned medium – the CD-ROM. Betting on the idea that businesses are frustrated by the passivity of Web sites and are looking for a better way to lead customers to their home pages, the Colorado Springs, Colorado-based company is selling a package called WebCD that enables businesses to publish HTML pages to a CD-ROM. The CD-ROMs can then be handed out at trade shows, distributed to field sales staff, or mailed to potential Internet commerce customers. The transfer to CD-ROM also retains all the live links – the main technology hurdle in converting from Web to CD-ROM. MarketScape is the second start up for CEO Bob Pinna and sales and marketing VP Richard Leavitt. The two met at Hewlett-Packard Corp and sold their first company to Intersolv Corp. The 13-person company has raised a total of $3m in venture capital and is looking to go public in three years. WebCD 1.0 will ship in September and consists of the WebCD Packager, with a spider to crawl through the site and build a graphical inventory. Users select which content they want to transfer from the site and move it to the CD. They can also add in other content, such as corporate videos which may take up too much room or take too long to download from the Web, but which run easily on a CD-ROM. The packager costs $975 per copy. The WebCD Viewer sits on the CD-ROM, includes a search engine and popular player and viewer plug-ins, and will install Microsoft Explorer or Netscape Navigator if the user doesn’t have a browser. The viewer costs about $900 for 500 viewer licenses. The viewer is said to run on all platforms; the packager runs on Windows 95 and a Windows NT version will be out in the fourth quarter. MarketScape is looking to add Java support in version 2.0. The firm claims users need little technical background to use WebCD, but offers a service to convert Web pages for customers who don’t want to do it in-house. WebCD is currently looking for technology partners who offer content publishing systems and to partner with search engine vendors. It will sell WebCD direct and through Web consulting companies.

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