IAR Bits and Bytes

Siemens, AOL Aim for Local Targets with Digital Envoy Stake

Siemens AG and AOL Time Warner are aiming for local targets with a stake in Atlanta-based technology firm Digital Envoy.

In addition to new investments of undisclosed amounts from the two giants’ venture units, Digital Envoy also saw new funding from H&Q Asia Pacific.

The three investments come as part of Digital Envoy’s Series A round of funding. Earlier investors in the round included Frontier Capital, Cordova Ventures and CrossBow Ventures.

Siemens and AOL said they were interested applications of Digital Envoy’s line of products that could target the location of a Web user as precise as their city.

“We are excited at the prospects of Digital Envoy’s current and future technology,” said Len Leader, who is president of AOL Time Warner Ventures.

One product, NetAcuity, is geared toward localized content and advertising, as well as digital rights management. The firm’s upcoming release, Emissary, is geared for optimizing network content delivery.

Besides AOL, Digital Envoy’s customers include Cable & Wireless, Network Associates and 24/7 Media.

Aptimus Reports Lowered Revenues

Seattle-based online marketer Aptimus said revenue slipped during its second quarter, although it was able to stem losses slightly.

The company reported a quarterly loss of $2.6 million, or $0.20 per share, on revenues of $381,000. Last quarter, the firm brought in $926,000 in revenue, and posted a loss of $5.8 million, or $0.37 per share.

With one time restructuring costs, the firm reported a net loss of about $5.5 million, or $0.42 per share.

Aptimus president and chief executive Tim Choate said the company’s quarterly performance reflected progress in its shift to a technology play from a “site-centric” model, in which its cost-per-acquisition discount-serving system delivered promotions to users of its FreeShop.com and Desteo.com sites.

“We made significant progress in this regard, including releasing the latest version of our network platform in June … and dramatically reducing our expenses which were tied to those site businesses,” Choate said. “At the same time, our revenues under the new model are just beginning to scale. Given the changes in the marketplace combined with the early stage of our network business, short-term results are less predictable. Our key focus is on building a solid, scalable long term business.”

As expected, Aptimus ended the quarter with approximately $13.6 million in cash and marketable securities — not enough to get it to profitability. During the quarter, the company said it was considering “strategic alternatives” and hired Dain Rauscher Wessels to assist in this evaluation.

Choate said the firm expects to announce its plan within the next few weeks.

“While we completely believe in our network model and online direct marketing in general, we also recognize the marketplace realities and seek to position ourselves for the best opportunity for shareholders overall,” he said.

NBC Taps Spiderdance for “Weakest Link” Game

Interactive TV firm Spiderdance will develop an iTV program for NBC’s game show “The Weakest Link”.

The Venice, Calif.-based company created create a system in which PC users at home can interact in real time with the show Monday night.

In addition to aiming to woo fans of primetime game shows to tune in and play along, the interactive game also shows banner ads for other programming on NBC, a unit of General Electric.

“‘Weakest Link’ has connected in a big way with audiences,” said Stephen Andrade, who is NBC’s vice president for interactive development and business affairs. “In effect, [the game] provides the most potent link to our ‘Weakest Link’ viewers and better serves those who want a more interactive experience — without having to face off against [acerbic TV host] Anne Robinson.”

Earlier this month, Spiderdance partnered with TV production firm Princeton Video Image to cross-sell their services to advertisers and television producers.

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