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Dot-Com Is Dot-Sold: An Internet Success Story
eMedguides.com is that rarest of companies. It is
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
six months ago.
The company publishes exhaustive guides to Internet sites by medical
specialty for doctors. Titles include Urology and Nephrology,
and Internal Medicine. All 2,000 some odd sites listed in each
book are described and rated based upon content and depth. The
is also available on the Internet, where it is frequently updated.
In addition, the company publishes guides to health sites and
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
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
know how and Bromwich, whom Goldenson met through his son, Andrew,
both graduates of Princeton Day School, got the tech end of the
up and running. Before the sale, Bromwich owned a small percentage
of the company, and the balance was divided between Egan and
Goldenson, who has never been anything but an
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
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
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
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
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
minimizing the leap from publishing to large-scale building. The
are similar, he says, in that both involve "starting from
Following the hands-on approach he enjoys, he took charge of
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
Park, 12 Roszel Road (home of U.S. 1 Newspaper), and about 10
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
market crashed, and, he says, did not return to 1986 values for 10
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
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
committee and board of directors for United Jersey Bank until it
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
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
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
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
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
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
an Internet guide for neurologists, and decided to seek a single
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
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
from Allergy & Immunology to Veterinary Medicine. The books are
free to doctors at medical conferences and by the sponsor
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
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
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,
and non-profit sources for comprehensive listings of journals,
continuing education resources, case studies, clinical information,
patient education information, and much more.
In the Cardiology book, for example, there are more than 250
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
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
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
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
have cut back.
While pharmaceutical sponsorship is likely to remain eMedguide.com’s
main business model, the company has just published its first
distributed book, Bioterrorism and Public Health. It too is a
of Internet sites. It includes annotated listings for Internet sites
on topics such as "Frequently Asked Questions: Bioterrorism
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
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
website for accessing medical journals, associations, and
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
She is a chair of the Arts Council of Princeton, a restaurant
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,
an architect, and Andrew, an engineer.
Goldenson’s mother, Irene Goldenson, at age 90 is a hospital
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
of 3 x 5 index cards, a standard academic research tool for many
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
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
While valuations for Internet companies flew through the stratosphere
before crashing out of sight, eMedguides.com started with
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.
Daniel Goldenson, president. 609-520-2001; fax, 609-520-2023. Home
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