F---edcompany.com carried this a week ago:|
FakeI didn't report on it at the time as it was near impossible to figure out which of many contracts with Micro$oft might have been expiring, or which loan might have been due, Micro$oft had invested $70m at one point. Fsckedco has been known to be wrong before, or at least premature (about new.net for example).
Rumor has it RealNames' contract with Microsoft, the only way its crappy keywords work, expires today. Oh and... and their $30 million debt with microsoft comes due today too... Looks like bankruptcy in the midst.....
When: May 03 2002 12:00AM
Veri$ign also had a 10% stake in RealNames, with an option to go to 20% which they never exercised. The interesting thing to watch now is what becomes of the assets? It is already integrated in Micro$oft's Internet Explorer web browser, it might well cost more to take it out than leave it in. Veri$ign's IDN (internationalized domain name) service also used RealNames technology. One can imagine either or both of these behemoths picking over the remains. While the company may be dead I suspect the technology will live on, and perhaps even grow.
As to why they failed, in addition to the reasons given, I mean, come on, 80 employees (and that after prior layoffs)? One could get away with that before the dotcom crash but that was long ago. The only surprise is that they've lasted till now. And like many once rising dotcom stars who crashed and burned, they also failed in their execution. I registered a RealName when they first came out. They pre-screened each name and wouldn't allow actual words, eg: auction, because then a single site would have a monopoly on that term. A year later I got a renewal notice that was so poorly written I couldn't figure out what I was required to do. I then got another notice saying I should disregard the previous one, with no further explanation. That was the end of my use of RealNames, nor have I since used them in a browser to go anywhere. They also got into hot water for reversing their stand on words and selling KeyWord 'books' to Amazon.com for a pile of money. There was a hue and cry about that and I don't now recall whether they backed down. They just never seemed to get their act together.
They really had a golden opportunity, particularily with IDN (as true IDN in the DNS is years away, if ever), but they fumbled the ball, and this despite the backing and leverage of two near monopolies in crucial areas. If either/both of them assume more direct control of the technology, it may be too soon to count it out entirely. -g