Wed, May 03, 2000 - Page 18 News List

PC Home Online opens business news Web site

E-COMMERCE Competing for both consumers and investors, PC Home's new business paper is the latest addition to the company's extensive lineup

By Dan Nystedt  /  STAFF REPORTER

Taiwan Internet company PC Home Online (網路家庭) moved even further into the online news business yesterday with the launch of ePaper Business News, a business decision considered bold in the light of world share markets' recent dotcom jitters.

The new online publication is not the first by PC Home, which already has three other titles in its stable. In May last year, the company launched ePaper, a general news e-mail publication; it also produces PC Home Daily, a Taiwan-focused news Web site; while earlier this year it launched Tomorrow Times (明日報) in conjunction with The Journalist magazine.

The new product is similar to the current ePaper, which is customized and delivered daily by email, but will have a specific business focus.

PC Home Online chairman and founder H.T. Jan (詹宏志), said the online papers responded to a growing need among consumers for a quick-download news source that gives them control.

"A lot of readers complained the paper downloaded too slowly," Jan said. "So we developed ePaper to give people the choice to have it delivered directly to their e-mail. That made it faster and more convenient for readers."

While the new paper will not only compete for consumers in an already crowded online market, the venture is considered bold in light of recent investor caution over dotcom businesses.

According to Michael Lee (李家祥), a lawyer at Squire, Sanders and Dempsey Taiwan (美商翰宇) who spent four years in Silicon Valley putting together deals between tech companies and venture capitalists, investors are demanding more from dotcom ventures.

"When the NASDAQ tanked, investors started to look more closely at exactly what they were buying in an Internet company," Lee said. "Investors want to see a good business plan that shows exactly how and when the company plans to earn money."

PC Home Online has so far relied predominantly on advertising -- through Web banners -- and content sales for earnings, but the company maintains its operations by using investment money, according to Jan. The new venture will be an even greater drain on investment funds.

The new business ePaper will have to compete against a number of online newspapers and magazines serving Taiwan's online market, including PC Home's own PC Home Daily and the much talked-about Tomorrow Times.

But according to PC Home Online president Arthur Lee (李宏麟), the creation of a business news site diversifies the company's ability to earn profits by making inroads into e-commerce.

Lee said the business paper will highlight new technology, consumer products and offer restaurant reviews as well.

Readers will be able to instantly make purchases or reservations through links provided on the page.

Through partnerships and agreements with area businesses and other online media, PC Home Online's new business paper will help businesses meet customers over the Net, according to Lee.

PC Home Online was one of Taiwan's first Chinese language portals and has extensive experience in managing Web publications. Currently the company runs 60 different online magazines and newspapers.

PC Home Online has not yet put out an IPO, and according to Jan, has no plans to do so in the near future.

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