Buying companies less than a year old is a dangerous business, and now Burlington, Massachusetts-based Individual Inc has cause to regret the $38m it paid out for six-month old internet start- up Freeloader Inc last June. Individual has discontinued the operation, cutting 28 jobs. Freeloader, founded late in 1995, was once touted as a competitor of PointCast Inc, and created software that enabled web users to download the web sites they were interested in onto their hard disks for off-line viewing. But the firm’s business was undermined by functionality shortly to be included from the mainstream web browsers of Microsoft Corp and Netscape Communications Corp. It was thought to be attempting to move into the fashionable push technology marketplace with forthcoming products. According to the Washington Post, Individual has been trying to offload Freeloader itself for the past four months, but was unable to find a buyer. Individual says it will be saving up to $1m a quarter by closing down the unit.
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