Princeton eCom Buys Quicken Product

ITXC’s E-mail Sell: Push to Talk:

High-end Copies

Corrections or additions?

These articles by Barbara Fox and Kathleen Spring were prepared

for the May 23, 2001 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights

reserved.

HealthAtoZ.com’s New Turn

When U.S. 1 Newspaper checked in with Cranbury-based

Internet company HealthAtoZ.com two years ago, the start-up, now

six years old, was confidently predicting that an IPO was in its

future,

and was pinning that future, in large part, on E-commerce.

The big news about HealthAtoZ.com today is that it is still alive

— a major accomplishment for any Internet company, and has turned

its ship around, heading away from the instant riches of an IPO and

crafting a business plan to bring it to the kind of respectable

profitability

for which six-year-old companies strived before the dizzying Internet

euphoria struck.

"We have changed our business model radically," says Vivian

Sudhalter, director of marketing. E-commerce is pretty much out,

although the company’s consumer website, healthAtoZ.com, does have

a partnership with a vitamin E-tailer.

Selling over the Internet, once embraced as a cost-efficient

alternative

that would revolutionize the way the world bought its goods, turned

out to be far more difficult than it appeared. Just last week, E-toys,

one of the most promising E-tailers, announced that it had sold one

of its last assets, its name. A northern New Jersey Internet company,

Vitaminshoppe.com, folded itself back into its parent, a

brick-and-mortar

retailer, earlier in the year. So it has gone for Internet commerce,

with even the hugely popular Amazon.com, with enormous name

recognition,

still falling short of profitability.

Rather than doing significant marketing through its two websites —

healthAtoZ.com for consumers and MedConnect.com for physicians —

HealthAtoZ.com is building revenue elsewhere. "We license

Web-based

tools that help other companies enhance their websites," says

Sudhalter. Customers include HMOs, employer groups, pharmaceuticals,

hospitals, and integrated health delivery networks.

Typically, customers have websites, but want to add features to them,

Sudhalter says. Popular licensed products are search engines and

diaries.

The diaries are keyed to specific diseases and conditions, including

asthma, diabetes, and pregnancy, and allow Internet visitors to enter

data on their diets, exercise regimes, and symptoms, and see charts

that demonstrate the effects of the interaction of these elements.

In addition to these tools, HealthAtoZ.com licenses health-related

content its writers produce in-house.

"We began as a health portal," Sudhalter says. "Now our

website is a living laboratory for tools that we license."

Future growth will not come from huge infusions of cash from

investors,

or from an IPO either, Sudhalter says, but rather from a licensing

fees from clients. At age six, HealthAtoZ.com is practically geriatric

in Internet time. The reason the company is still moving ahead?

"Flexibility,"

says Sudhalter.

— Kathleen McGinn Spring

HealthAtoZ.com, 8 Clarke Drive, Cedar Brook

Corporate Center, Suite T1, Cranbury 08512. Raj Lakhanpal MD FACEP,

president. 609-409-8200; fax, 609-409-8130. Home page:

healthatoz.com

Top Of Page
Princeton eCom Buys Quicken Product

After years of toiling in virtual back offices,

Princeton

eCom can now do front-end work. The company that started out doing

electronic payment processing for bank clients has bought Intuit’s

electronic billing and payment service. Last week, to celebrate the

acquisition of the Quicken Bill Manager program, Princeton eCom threw

a party at the Doral Forrestal, complete with balloons and confetti,

for 350 employees.

With this deal comes $5 million in cash from Intuit. In return, Intuit

will own 20 percent of Princeton eCom. In California, 25 Quicken

employees

are being invited to leave Intuit and work for Princeton eCom in a

satellite location.

Billing Concepts, an original investor, currently owns 42 percent

of the company. With 40,000 square feet at 650 College Road, Princeton

eCom has 400 employees, 65 client billing companies and 1,000 banks.

Princeton eCom had revenues last year of $13 million and predicts

its "breakeven" point will come in 12 to 15 months.

Among Princeton eCom’s primary products is the payment processing

service for banks. "If you have a bank-at-home feature, we provide

the payment services," says Tom Healey, director of corporate

communications (Holy Cross, Class of 1976). "If a company is

receiving

payments electronically, we send electronic payment. If not, we

execute

a printed check and send a check in the mail."

Through Quicken, Princeton eCom now offers an electronic bill

presenting

service, so consumer clients can see the bills online. The market

for electronic bill presenting and paying is huge, but the number

of people actually opting for this service is still very small.

Nevertheless,

Princeton eCom can claim second place in number of bills paid

electronically.

An Atlanta-based electronic payment firm, Check Free, remains first.

But when it comes to scanning paper bills to present them online,

Paytrust can claim first place. Based at Quakerbridge Executive

Center,

Paytrust (Secure Commerce Services) was founded by Ed McLaughlin and

Flint Lane. Its consumer clients pay to have all their bills presented

and paid online, and Princeton eCom is one of its bill service

providers.

"If you talk about complete bill management — the number of

bills paid and presented online — we are the largest," says

Anil Singh, spokesperson for Paytrust.

Princeton eCom started out in 1984 as Princeton TeleCom. Founder Don

Licciardello, a Princeton University physics professor, had software

to help big banks deal with electronic payments. In 1999 he changed

the company name to fit a potential snazzy stock symbol, hired Ronald

Averett as president, and made plans to go public. Curt Welling

replaced

founder Licciardello as CEO last August. Welling was president of

SG Cowen Securities. and executive vice president of SG Americas —

both owned by Paris-based Societe General bank. Licciardello remains

as chairman of the board.

Another of Princeton eCom’s recent deals affected Trintech, which

has software developers at 5 Independence Way. Trintech is the Irish

firm that provides electronic payment software for credit cards.

"With

this deal, we picked up an international component and have a global

presence," says Healey. "We purchased licensing rights to

sell the card processing services — including payment processing

and authentication — as a turnkey solution to card companies.

When Princeton eCom moved from Research Park to the Forrestal Center,

it had lined up Morgan Stanley Dean Witter to take it public, but

that effort got put on a back shelf. "Our IPO plans are to keep

on watching the market and keep on taking advantage of a better

market,"

says Healey. "A later IPO means we will have a larger and more

comprehensive suite of services and an identification with one of

the leading brands."

— Barbara Fox

Princeton eCom, 650 College Road East, Princeton

08540. Curt Welling, CEO. 609-606-3000; fax, 609-606-3297.

Www.princetonecom.com

Top Of Page
ITXC’s E-mail Sell: Push to Talk:

As it proliferates, E-mail marketing gets more

competitive.

The number of E-mail messages that the average person receives is

expected to grow by a factor of 40 in four years, predicts Jupiter

Communications.

To its original mission, providing a worldwide Internet voice network,

ITXC Corp. has added various products for E-mail marketers. Its

"Push

to Talk" service, for instance, reaches those Internet users too

impatient to wait for an E-mail reply; they want to talk to someone

live right away. Push to Talk is offered on a pay-per-call basis,

so that E-mailers can add voice interaction to their banner ads,

E-mail

campaigns, and websites without any capital investment.

Jeff Gaus, ITXC’s marketing vice president for E-commerce, predicts

that, "all significant Internet applications will include voice

by year end."

Some commercial clients report a 500 percent increase in

"conversion"

rates, the rate at which a web page viewer turns into a customer.

Doctors and other health professionals doing online learning through

MedCases, can click on a "Push to Talk" button to speak

directly

to a pharmaceutical representative.

Another way to use this service is for charity campaigns, so that

potential donors can relay their credit card numbers to a live person.

ITXC pioneered this application for the "48 Hours Against

AIDS"

campaign in France. Companies that want to support this effort can

cut and paste HTML code to add "Click to Give" buttons to

their own websites.

Located at 600 College Road, ITXC plans a move to 30,000 square feet

at 750 College Road late this summer. Worldwide it has nearly 400

employees, nearly 300 here.

ITXC.net, the largest global network for voice on the Internet, has

466 points of presence in more than 263 cities and 96 countries. The

network has carried more than 1.5 billion minutes of use since it

was started in 1998. ITXC’s BestValue Routing technology assures

consistent

carrier-grade call quality by routing calls around the Internet

congestion

that degrades voice quality.

In addition to web merchants seeking the Push to Talk product, the

network’s customers include major traditional carriers and resellers

who achieve lower costs for phone-to-phone calls while maintaining

carrier quality, and Internet-based Web-to-phone providers and voice

portals.

"Voice on the Internet is the first major Internet application

that benefits people who don’t have or aren’t using computers,"

says Tom Evslin, founder and chairman. When telecom companies take

advantage of ITXC’s "BestValue Routing" opportunity, the

quality

is good, and neither caller nor recipient is aware of the change.

ITXC set a record for one of the most traditional uses for the

telephone,

to "call home," on Mother’s Day. It carried more than 5.7

million minutes of phone to phone traffic on Sunday, May 13, an

all-time

company record for a single day and a 250 percent increase over last

year. Perhaps more amazing is that most of those who talked that day

did not know they were making an Internet call.

ITXC Corp. (Internet Telephony Exchange Carrier)

(ITXC),

600 College Road East, Princeton 08540. Tom Evslin, CEO. 609-419-1500;

fax, 609-419-1511. Home page: www.itxc.com

Top Of Page
High-end Copies

Paper to Digital

Root Technologies is quietly plugging away at an

unglamorous

Internet-based business with an elegant twist: it converts paper

documents

to electronic forms with special expertise.

"We have technical edges over our competitors, because we write

our own software," says Thomas D. Johnson, the president and

project

manager. His competitors use off-the-shelf software, including Acrobat

and DJVU. "But when it can’t do what they are looking for, they

are stuck."

Ordinary digital copying has become a commodity, but scientific

journals

require specialized treatment of photographs and colors. "There

are many tradeoffs involved in file size and quality," says

Johnson.

One of his major projects was a 10 CD set of journals for the

Acoustical

Society, dating back to 1929.

The son of an optical engineer, Johnson went to Kean College, Class

of 1980, and the Stevens Institute of Technology. He worked for

Bellcore

before founding Root Technologies in 1987 as a computer consulting

firm. He has seven other employees, including one of his three

brothers,

Gary. "Our goal is to look for the right kinds of projects and

focus on what we do well — what is fun and interesting," says

Johnson.

Root Technologies Inc., 14 Wall Street, Princeton

08540. Thomas D. Johnson, project manager. 609-430-1320; fax,

908-359-9250.

Home page: www.roottech.com


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