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October 4, 1999

Now E-Planet Closes its Doors, Interval’s Third Failure

By CBR Staff Writer

Yet another spin-off from Paul Allen’s Interval Research Corp has failed. On Friday, it emerged that ePlanet had closed its doors after failing to find funding. The crisis was prefigured by a notice that went up on ePlanet’s web site on September 30, which said the company had transitioned from a product development model to a pure technology licensing company. As such, the notice read, ePlanet has been scaled to a minimal staff and is aggressively pursuing new licensing opportunities.

Alongside Interval, Intel Corp invested in the company at the start of this year, giving it a total of $6m to kick-start its plans to enter the consumer entertainment software and networked toy market. However, no further funding appears to have been forthcoming. Interval and Intel may still license E-Planet’s vision technologies for consumer applications to interested parties.

E-Planet is the third Interval spin-off to fail. Games for girls company Purple Moon folded in February, and publishing software company Carnelian Inc closed its doors in July 1998. Interval itself appears to be moving towards a more pragmatic commercial products direction with a new focus on the cable industry, more in line with its founder’s recent interests and away from the pure research it was originally formed to carry out (CI No 3,754). Allen originally funded Interval to the tune of $100m over a ten year period to develop next-generation technology, seven years ago.

There are still two other Interval spin-offs: games and smart toy company Zowie Intertainment Inc, and Avio Digital, the company formed at the end of last year out of Interval’s Mediaware home networking technology interests (CI No 3,437). But even Zowie is going through turmoil. Also on Friday, it announced that it had called off its proposed merger with Knowledge Kids Enterprises Inc, and named co-founder Amy Francetic as president and chief executive, replacing Teymour Boutros-Ghali, who now becomes chairman. Knowledge Kids is a subsidiary of Knowledge Universe LLC, the company founded in 1996 by Oracle Corp’s Larry Ellison and former junk-bond king Michael Milken.

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