April 28, 1999 5:35 PM PDT

Bigfoot may sell directory, email services

Email services company Bigfoot is in talks with a number of companies to possibly sell its email directory and redirection service, according to cofounder Lenny Barshack.

New York-based Bigfoot is mulling the potential sale of Bigfoot Directory, a Web-based white page directory, and Bigfoot for Life, which redirects Bigfoot email addresses when users change their email provider.

"We've been approached and we are in discussions with a number of people," Barshack said. "We're looking at what we can do with Life-Directory, and one of the scenarios is to sell it--and another is to fund it another round."

Barshack said some of the discussions involve a cash investment, while others center around an equity investment. But he said the talks have not progressed to a stage where prices are being thrown on the table.

While Barshack would not name any potential suitors, he said Bigfoot is talking to 30 companies, including portals as well as other Web directories. He added that roughly a half dozen of the companies are at a "more than exploratory" stage in their talks with Bigfoot.

In the past, Web directories have been acquisition targets among portals looking to extend their suite of offerings into more utility-oriented services. In October 1997, Yahoo acquired free email and Web directory Four11 for $92 million in stock. Almost a year later, Lycos acquired WhoWhere for $133 million in stock.

Founded in 1995, Bigfoot developed its business around directory and email services. Since then, the company has taken more of a Web incubator role. Bigfoot has since reorganized into three companies, which include Web browser enhancer NeoPlanet, customized direct email service ECM, and the Bigfoot Web utilities.

According to the company, Bigfoot-branded Web sites have 1.5 million active users and receive 20 million page views per month.


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