Bits and Bytes for March 23, 2004

Brightmail Files for IPO

Anti-spam firm Brightmail has filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission in preparation for an initial public offering of stock. The offering could bring the firm up to $80 million in new capital.

The company says it would use the dough for general corporate purposes, including expansion and making acquisitions.

Brightmail is testing the waters of the public markets at a time when many believe investors are once again warming to putting money into Internet-related firms. The most eagerly awaited of expected initial public offerings is that of Google, which has not yet filed SEC paperwork but has reportedly found underwriters. Search marketing firm Marchex, the parent of Enhance Interactive and TrafficLeader, filed for a public offering back in December but it has not yet made its debut.

In its filing, Brightmail said it brought in $26 million in revenues in the fiscal year ending January 31, which resulted in a net profit of $1 million.

Toolbars Bursting Out All Over

Search players HotBot and Dogpile released browser toolbars this week that incorporate unique functions, including the ability to subscribe to RSS news feeds.

The new offering from HotBot, which is owned by Terra Lycos, is called the HotBot DeskTop. It allows users to not only search the Web, but also to search files on their own computers, including email, directory files, and browser history. HotBot DeskTop users can also browse, search, and subscribe to RSS feeds via the application, which also includes a pop-up blocker, keyword highlighting and the ability to create custom shortcuts to search favorite sites.

Dogpile’s offering also includes an embedded RSS feed manager, and it supports Atom, a newer syndication format. The toolbar displays a scrolling content ticker that puts users’ news feed headlines right into their Web browser. Dogpile toolbar users can also view popular search terms, search for a term directly from a Microsoft Word document, and take advantage of enhanced pop-up blocking features.

DoubleClick Licenses Geo-Targeting Technology

Online advertising technology firm DoubleClick has teamed with Digital Envoy to enhance the geo-targeting features in its DART for Publishers, DART for Advertisers, and DART Enterprise ad servers.

The Digital Envoy technology will enable the targeting of anonymous users based on continent, country, state, county, city or township, postal code, area code, ISP, domain and time zone. In the second half of the year, DoubleClick plans to add both bandwidth-targeting and DMA-targeting to its ad serving products.

Accountant “Googles” Himself, Sues Search Engine Over Results

A California man who searched for his own name on Google has filed suit against the search engine — along with Yahoo, America Online, and Time Warner — because of the results he received.

Mark Maughan, an accountant at a firm called Brown and Maughan, filed a proposed class action suit accusing the companies of libel, product liability and unfair business practices.

Maughan is apparently upset over a Google result that points to a disciplinary record on the California State Board of Accountancy Web site. In the suit, Maughan says “the search results falsely represent…that Plaintiffs Maughan and/or B&M has/have been disciplined for ‘gross negligence’.”

When Maughan contacted Google and asked the company to take the results down, Google referred him to the State Board. But, in the suit, Maughan maintains, “the false and injurious information did not appear on the State Board’s Web site and was solely created by defendant Google’s very own search engine technology.”

Maughan’s complaint accuses Google of “reformatting” information that results in a changing of the context of results. He contends this makes the defendants more like a creator or developer of content rather than a passer-along of information.

The plaintiff is seeking an injunction to keep Google from “publishing” the statements and from offering its search engine technology. He’s also seeking damages.

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