Corrections or additions?

This article was prepared for the March 20, 2002 edition of

U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.

Dot-Com Is Dot-Sold: An Internet Success Story

eMedguides.com is that rarest of companies. It is

unashamedly

dot-com, and also profitable. Founded in 1999 by a successful serial

entrepreneur, a retired pharmaceutical executive, and — yes —

a young guy just out of college, it was sold to a publishing

conglomerate

six months ago.

The company publishes exhaustive guides to Internet sites by medical

specialty for doctors. Titles include Urology and Nephrology,

Cardiology,

and Internal Medicine. All 2,000 some odd sites listed in each

500-plus-page

book are described and rated based upon content and depth. The

material

is also available on the Internet, where it is frequently updated.

In addition, the company publishes guides to health sites and

disease-specific

sites for consumers.

The company’s founders are Raymond C. Egan, an executive who had put

in 27 years with Bristol-Myers Squibb, Adam Bromwich, a 1996 graduate

of Princeton University, and Daniel R. Goldenson, the serial

entrepreneur.

Bromwich left the venture in August, 2001 to attend business school

at Yale, and Egan left four months later to give retirement another

try. That leaves Goldenson, who agreed to stay on for at least two

years after the sale to Thomson, a Canadian corporation with revenues

of $7 billion that trades on the Toronto stock exchange under the

symbol TOC. Thomson is also the parent of Peterson’s, the college

guide company at Princeton Pike Corporate Center.

Now holding the title of general manager and running the business,

Goldenson emphasizes that building eMedguides.com was a group effort.

"We needed marketing, that was key," he says. "And we

needed computer and database management." Egan supplied the

marketing

know how and Bromwich, whom Goldenson met through his son, Andrew,

both graduates of Princeton Day School, got the tech end of the

business

up and running. Before the sale, Bromwich owned a small percentage

of the company, and the balance was divided between Egan and

Goldenson.

Goldenson, who has never been anything but an

entrepreneur,

started his business life in an office on Nassau Street, but within

a year moved his office to West Windsor. While he lives in Princeton,

he has been a business resident of West Windsor ever since, and, in

fact, built many of the West Windsor offices in which other

entrepreneurs

have set up shop.

Although he graduated from Princeton (Class of 1966) with a degree

in economics and public policy, Goldenson had entered college as an

engineering major and was editor-in-chief of Princeton Engineer

magazine.

He spent the summer of his junior year putting together a career guide

to engineering jobs in New Jersey. It was called the New Jersey Index

of Engineering Opportunity. In it he profiled 46 companies. Revenue

came from engineering companies that took out ads in the book.

"I distributed it to placement offices in the fall of my senior

year, and I thought that was that," he recalls. Then, he says,

"An older person said to me, as they do, `Aren’t you going to

do the whole country?’" The comment was made in jest, but he

decided

to do just that. Working from an office near campus, and using fellow

students and telephone salespeople, he spent his final college year

running back and forth across Nassau Street, attending classes and

putting together a 22-volume, country-wide guide to engineering jobs

with over 2,000 companies.

"By then," says Goldenson, "I did feel I had put together

a small company." He called the company Resource Publications

Inc., grew it to a 10-person operation, and sold it to Gulf and

Western,

now Viacom, in 1968. At about the same time, he and co-author Peter

M. Sandman were writing How to Succeed in Business Before Graduation,

which was published by Collier.

The terms of sale of his company to Gulf and Western stipulated that

he stay on for three years, which he did. Under his stewardship the

company produced career guides for a number of other fields. One of

them was a guide to industrial real estate.

Goldenson became interested in real estate, left Gulf and Western

in the early 1970s, and became a commercial real estate developer.

"I decided to build some office buildings," he says

offhandedly,

minimizing the leap from publishing to large-scale building. The

fields

are similar, he says, in that both involve "starting from

scratch."

Following the hands-on approach he enjoys, he took charge of

everything

from getting approvals to hiring subcontractors. "I acted as my

own general contractor and leasing agent," he says. "I like

learning new things, and being in charge of the process. I built

Washington

Park, 12 Roszel Road (home of U.S. 1 Newspaper), and about 10

others."

Timing is important for an entrepreneur, says Goldenson, who sold

all of his real estate holdings within a span of a few months in 1986

at the very height of the market for office buildings in the Princeton

area. The buyers were British real estate trusts that were looking

for properties at the time. Soon after Goldenson sold, the local

office

market crashed, and, he says, did not return to 1986 values for 10

years.

That was the good part of Goldenson’s timing. The bad part was that

the rapid sell-off left him without a major project. "Those were

my least productive years," he says of the decade between 1986

and 1996. "People think I have gone in just one direction, but

I hadn’t prepared for the void of selling everything at one time.

It was a mistake. It’s a good idea to plan what you are going to do

next."

Nevertheless, during that time, Goldenson did accomplish a great deal.

Among other projects, he developed 300 acres of land in Maine, did

financial consulting for economic development revenue bonds, formed

Reference Development Corporation, a publisher of books on finance,

contemporary education, and other subjects, and served on the

executive

committee and board of directors for United Jersey Bank until it

became

Summit Bancorp.

The stretch between major business ventures taught Goldenson that

he does best when he’s busy. He shrugs off the decade, however, saying

"for entrepreneurs, you face these things. It’s part of the

process.

You build up a business, and realize a return. You can’t always plan

what to do next."

While Goldenson was between big ideas, the Internet was gaining

momentum.

Like so many other born entrepreneurs, Goldenson became fascinated

by the exciting new medium. He didn’t plunge in willy nilly, though,

but rather researched a number of niches and business models. The

business idea he settled on, and executed with the help of his

partners,

Egan and Bromwich, was not all that different from the business he

started as an undergraduate.

He discovered a niche — medical reference — where no one had

created an extensive library of tools, and for which there was a

possibility

of high-end sponsorship. He and Egan financed the start-up with their

own money. "We tried to develop a model with no large front-end

investment," Goldenson says. They did not spend time chasing

venture

capital money, as did so many other Internet companies, including

a number in what quickly became an overcrowded E-health field.

Instead they, and Bromwich, their tech guy, put together a pilot

publication,

an Internet guide for neurologists, and decided to seek a single

sponsor

for it.

It was a business model that worked. eMedguide.com’s

books and Internet sites are not sold by subscription, neither are

they peppered with advertisements. Each is sponsored by a single

pharmaceutical

company. The book of cardiology Internet resources, for example, is

sponsored by Bristol-Myers Squibb. A single ad for that company’s

cholesterol-lowering drug, Pravachol, appears in the front of the

book, and another forms the back cover.

Emedguides.com now publishes Internet guides in some 30 medical

specialties,

from Allergy & Immunology to Veterinary Medicine. The books are

distributed

free to doctors at medical conferences and by the sponsor

pharmaceutical

company’s drug reps. Beyond having an ad for their drug in the guide,

Goldenson says the pharmaceutical companies benefit because the book

gives their reps an excuse to engage busy doctors in conversation,

and hand them something of value. While anyone can visit

eMedguides.com’s

website (www.emedguides.com) and see the table of contents for each

medical specialty, an access code is necessary to view text. Each

book has an access code on its first page.

eMedguides.com has a staff of six full-time and two part-time

employees.

All work, from research to lay-out, is done in-house. Goldenson and

his employees, whose backgrounds include medicine and publishing,

comb the Internet for quality sites in each specialty. They do not

include private or commercial sites, but rather give government,

academic,

and non-profit sources for comprehensive listings of journals,

conferences,

continuing education resources, case studies, clinical information,

patient education information, and much more.

In the Cardiology book, for example, there are more than 250

sub-sections

under just one heading, "Diseases/Disorders." Beginning with

Adams-Stokes Disease and ending with Von Hippel-Lindau Disease, this

sub-section provides 11 resource categories for cardiovascular shock

alone.

Goldenson is responsible for content, but doctors from Johns Hopkins

provide a final edit. New editions of each book are published every

year, and the corresponding websites are updated more frequently.

Patient guides, a relatively new venture for eMedguides.com, are about

one-fifth the size of the physicians’ reference guides. They are also

sponsored by pharmaceuticals. The Internet Guide to Baby Health, for

example, is backed by Mead Johnson, which uses it to advertise baby

formula Enfamil. The patient guides — up to half-a-million in

each printing — are not sold, but rather are distributed by

doctors.

Goldenson acknowledges that obtaining pharmaceutical sponsorship is

more difficult now than it was a year ago. A number of companies in

the industry have seen their stock prices fall, partly because of

analyst worries over the expiration of drug patents. Lay-offs and

cost cuts followed, and spending, in many cases, has been cut. Now

that eMedguides.com has been sold, the issue does not press too

heavily

on Goldenson. Again, he credits good timing.

"We sold just two weeks before September 11," he says, nothing

that since that date, publications of all kinds have suffered as

advertisers

have cut back.

While pharmaceutical sponsorship is likely to remain eMedguide.com’s

main business model, the company has just published its first

commercially

distributed book, Bioterrorism and Public Health. It too is a

compilation

of Internet sites. It includes annotated listings for Internet sites

on topics such as "Frequently Asked Questions: Bioterrorism

Concerns

after September 11," "Children and Anthrax: A Fact Sheet for

Clinicians," and "Health Advisory: How to Recognize and Handle

a Suspicious Package."

Goldenson has retained editorial autonomy in putting together this

and eMedguide.com’s dozens of other books. Thomson handles accounting

and marketing. He says one of the main reasons he and his partners

sold the company was that it needed the marketing component. Egan

had handled that chore, but his retirement left a void. The company

spoke to a number of publishers about an acquisition and found Thomson

a good fit. eMedguides.com fit nicely into Thomson’s medical

publishing

division, Medical Economics (www.pdr.net) which is based in Montvale,

and which puts out the Physicians’ Desk Reference, a ubiquitous guide

to prescription medications, as well as a number of other publications

for the medical community.

Relieved of some administrative chores after the sale, Goldenson still

puts in long hours. In addition to his work at eMedguides.com, he

owns Medbioworld (www.medbioworld.com), a website he purchased from

an Austrian company in April, 2001. He describes it as the

"largest

website for accessing medical journals, associations, and

databases."

Too busy to spend a lot of time on it himself, he says he will license

it to another website operator.

Goldenson arrives at his light, tranquil offices, where a treadmill

sits barricaded behind cartons of freshly-published books, by 7:45

a.m., and stays until 6:15 p.m. or so. He does take breaks though.

"We drove to Maine last Thursday," he says. "We left at

noon, got there at 7:30 p.m., and came home on Sunday morning."

He makes this trip to his farm, which sits by the sea in Damariscotta,

Maine, fairly often. His travel companion is his wife, Suzanne

Goldenson.

She is a chair of the Arts Council of Princeton, a restaurant

reviewer,

and the author of cook books and books on wine and food. She has just

finished a book on smoked salmon. The couple have two children,

Jeffrey,

an architect, and Andrew, an engineer.

Goldenson’s mother, Irene Goldenson, at age 90 is a hospital

volunteer.

For many years she tutored foreign-born Princeton University students

in English. "She still could tutor, I guess," Goldenson says

of his mother, who remains active. His late father, Robert Goldenson

(Princeton, Class of 1930) was a psychologist and an author. Goldenson

says he very probably inherited his "research gene" from his

father, who wrote a number of books, including many dictionaries of

psychology and psychiatry.

Goldenson remembers his father working from "stacks and

stacks"

of 3 x 5 index cards, a standard academic research tool for many

decades.

Goldenson himself has no need for index cards. He makes his living

with a mouse.

Asked if he ever thought about dropping the dot-com from his company

name, as other businesses did in the past two years to avoid the

stigma

of the loud Internet crash, he is emphatic. "No," he says,

surprised that the question was even raised. "All of our books

are online. We get all of our material from the Internet."

Yet, he acknowledges that others don’t necessarily see eMedguides.com

— despite its dot-com name — as an Internet company. He and

his partners at one time thought that was what they were, and as a

result, he says, "thought the company was worth more than it

was."

While valuations for Internet companies flew through the stratosphere

before crashing out of sight, eMedguides.com started with

self-generated

seed money, built a business model, and turned a profit — very

un-Internet-like behavior indeed.

So, despite the fact that Goldenson’s business relies 100 percent

on the Internet, suitors saw it as a medical publishing company rather

than a dot-com. And while that would have been a bad thing in the

days of the Internet boom, circa 2000, it has turned out to be a very

good position to be in during the post-boom recession of 2002.

eMedGuides.com, 15 Roszel Road, Princeton 08543.

Daniel Goldenson, president. 609-520-2001; fax, 609-520-2023. Home

page: www.emedguides.com


Previous Story


Corrections or additions?


This page is published by PrincetonInfo.com

— the web site for U.S. 1 Newspaper in Princeton, New Jersey.

Facebook Comments