Carnegie’s Horizon

Village Bank Extends Offer

Management Moves


Corrections or additions?

Princeton eCom aka Princeton Telecom: an IPO

These articles by Barbara Fox were published in U.S. 1 Newspaper on April 7, 1999. All rights reserved.

Two years ago Princeton TeleCom was helping big banks

deal with electronic payments. Now the 16-year-old firm is using the

same technology to help engineer the fast-moving E-commerce train.

The Research Park-based firm has changed its name to Princeton eCom

Corporation, and last week it filed an S-1 registration — a preliminary

statement — with the Securities and Exchange Commission for a

$46 million initial public offering, to be managed by BancBoston Robertson

Stephens and Donald, Lufkin & Jenrette. For a prospectus call 415-781-9700.

The stock would trade on Nasdaq under the symbol ECOM.

Princeton Telecom, now Princeton eCom, is already a leading provider

of Internet bill publishing and payment services for large businesses

and financial institutions. It was founded by Donald Licciardello,

a Princeton University physics professor and an alumnus of the University

of Scranton, Class of ’68, and the University of Virginia; he currently

owns 62 percent of the stock.

Princeton eCom had 56 workers in 1997 and has 80 employees now, all

located in 11,000 square feet at Research Park. In its expansion mode

the firm says it needs to hire experienced sales professionals plus

expertise in market research, public relations, marketing, trade shows,

speaking engagements, and web site marketing.

The prospectus notes that the firm has had net losses in each of the

past five years, and that losses increased last year by 57 percent,

going to $3.4 million in 1998. But revenues grew 26 percent to $3.8

million in 1998. Billing Concepts, based in San Antonio, Texas, has

a $10 million investment in Princeton eCom and owns 23 percent of

the 2.3 million existing shares. No share price or share volume has

been made public.

Ronald W. Averett, 42, was made president and COO last month. He helped

spin off Chevy Chase Bank’s credit card business last December, and

he has also worked at Advanta and Citibank.

As an outsource solution for bill presentment and payment, the firm

has brand neutral products that eliminate the need for companies to

generate and mail paper bills as well as the need for consumers to

write and mail checks. Among its products are Electronic Lockbox Service,

1-800 PayBill, and the new Internet bill publishing service.

The Electronic Lockbox Service is a back-end service: It delivers

verified payments to the biller’s accounts-receivable platform for

posting. Federated Department Stores, for instance, is a Princeton

eCom customer. The retail customer who uses online banking pays a

bill electronically to Macy’s, and the parent company (Federated)

aggregates the payments and sends them to Research Park.

"Banks that capture these electronic payments send `a check and

a list,’" said Licciardello in an article in U.S. 1 November 5,

1997. He referred to how one big check is accompanied by a list of

payments to be drawn on that check: "The billers hire us to help

automate those `check and lists’." Princeton eCom’s revenues come

from transaction fees and "overnight interest" on the payments.

1-800 PayBill allows Princeton eCom’s clients to accept payments by

telephone and is the forerunner of a new Internet bill publishing

service, which has not yet been given a brand name. For one utility,

consumers can check the amount of a bill on the telephone and pay

it or postpone it.

A third option: customers can choose to see a bill and pay it on the

utility’s website. Bell Atlantic Mobile and Lucent Technologies Consumer

Products are among those using this Internet bill publishing service.

Digital Scanline, a value-added service of all the products, will

digitize the payment list and validate the "postability" of

each record.

Princeton e-Com also operates a call center so that clients can outsource

customer service inquiries on Internet bill publishing and payment

and 1-800-PayBill.

When interviewed two years ago (U.S. 1, November 5, 1997), Licciardello

cited more than 250 customers and "electronic lockbox" connectivity

to more than 700 national bill senders.

A major competitor, Atlanta-based CheckFree, claims to be the leading

provider of electronic billing and payment processing and trades on

Nasdaq as CKFR. The difference: CheckFree is trying to do both front-end

and back-end business, through retail banks, whereas Princeton eCom

has stayed with the back end.

Two years ago Princeton eCom’s business seemed limited by the number

of retail customers who would take the trouble to set up online checking

accounts. Now that it seems possible for anyone with a credit card

and an Internet account to be able to pay their bills online, the

newly renamed firm can tap the growing E-commerce market.

— Barbara Fox

Princeton eCom Corporation, 165 Wall Street, Princeton

08540. Donald C. Licciardello, CEO. 609-924-1244; fax, 609-924-1096.

Home page:

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Carnegie’s Horizon

Two new office buildings at Carnegie Center may add

a new look to Route 1. The West Windsor planning board has scheduled

a meeting Tuesday, April 20, to review the final site plans of Carnegie

Center Associates for 901 Carnegie, a 140,000-square foot building

at Carnegie Center West (between Macaroni Grill and Carnegie Center

Boulevard) and 302 Carnegie, a 100,000-foot building on a triangular

lot south of Summit Bank. Both new buildings would front on Route


Sam Surtees, the township’s director of community development, says

the proposal for the east side has received approval for a stand-alone

sign for Merrill Lynch, which might occupy up to 60,000 feet of the

100,000-foot building. The nine-acre site for 901 Carnegie would be

developed by Hallbridge Real Estate Group, the just-formed partnership

of Hal Hoeland and Suzy Trowbridge, who are negotiating with several

potential tenants.

Hoeland, a 1969 alumnus of Princeton University, is also president

of Princeton Development Group. His projects include the 25,000-foot

Woodlands Professional Building on Bunn Drive, finished in 1995, and

a new medical arts building now under construction on Princeton-Hightstown

Road. Trowbridge went to Boston College, Class of 1963, and has been

a reporter for the Chicago Tribune, a writer for Town Topics, and,

as a licensed real estate broker, a leasing agent for Forrestal Village

and Palmer Square.

Another Hallbridge project, a 17-acre site on Schalks Crossing Road

zoned for 200,000 square feet, will be developed for laboratory and/or

research and communications companies that need "turn-key"

access to the latest networking and communications technology.

Hallbridge Real Estate Group LLC, Box 428, Princeton

08542. 609-924-3495; fax, 609-924-3496. E-mail:

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Village Bank Extends Offer

Village Financial Corporation is having another go at

attracting from $5 million to $12 million of seed capital to set up

a federally chartered savings bank. CEO Kenneth J. Stephon extended

the purchase deadline and scheduled an information session for potential

subscribers to the initial public offering of common stock at $10

a share. The reception will be Wednesday, April 14, at 7 p.m. at Mercer

Mutual Insurance, 10 Route 31 North, Pennington. Call 609-689-1010

for reservations.

The future bank’s failure to meet the deadline was not surprising

— other new banks have had that problem. What did seem surprising

was that a Business News New Jersey article reporting the bank’s shortfall

and speculating on the bank’s perception problems did not mention

the connection between George M. Taber (founder and president of the

New Brunswick-based newspaper) and Village Financial (Taber is on

the board of the future bank).

In a short article in the April 5 issue of Business News, a consultant

speculated on why the bank failed its minimum goal, suggesting that

because Stephon had been CEO of a bank in South Jersey he lacks visibility

in this area. Readers might have wondered whether the board was sending

a message to Stephon through the magazine.

No, says Diana Lassiter Drake, the managing editor: "We were just

reporting the story as we normally would, and we will continue to

report this story as it happens." Drake notes that Taber’s connection

to the bank was disclosed in previous stories; she plans to clarify

the policy.

Reached by telephone, Stephon said that the board had considered the

visibility question, but he enumerated some other factors that had

not been accounted for. One was the timing. Says Stephon: "Many

people told me their investment plans were affected by needing to

wait for tax refunds."

Another was public reaction to the offering amount. Though the offering

was planned for up to $12 million, only $5 million in capital is actually

needed to begin. But as Stephon points out, if the offering had been

capped at, for instance, $7 million, and the interest far exceeded

that, the bank would have had to reject some investors or start all

over. "We didn’t want to be in that position," says Stephon.

The new bank’s federal thrift charter may also need explaining. "It

was initially designed and is still intended to promote home ownership

of individuals and families within the community. We think that is

a noble goal," says Stephon.

In contrast to mortgage companies, he says, banks can provide full

banking services. And with the recent change in thrift charters, thrifts

can make a large number of commercial loans. "We think the flexibility

of the charter gives us certain business advantages," says Stephon,

pointing out that Sovereign Bank, the 900-pound gorilla of the thrifts,

has the same charter as his bank.

Among the other thrift banks are Roma Federal Savings, Magyar, and

Stephon’s alma mater, Pennsauken-based Clover. "Everybody’s making

outstanding money," says Stephon.

Village Financial Corporation, 23 Route 31, Pennington

Point, Suite A-22, Pennington 08534. 609-730-0183; fax, 609-737-0003.

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Management Moves

Richard Plumeri has merged his Hamilton Square residential

real estate firm with Coldwell Banker, and it will be known as Coldwell

Banker Richardson Realtors (609-586-0400).

Top Of Page

Betty Logan 57, on March 24. She was the former field

hockey and lacrosse coach at Princeton University. A service will

be Sunday, April 11, at 3 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Church.

George Wilson Bishop, 76, on March 30. He owned Bishop

Engineering on Lawrence Road.

Gordon R. Clayton, 57, on March 31. He worked for Princeton

Regional School District and Ellsworth Liquor Store.

Bayard G. Gardineer, 68, on April 5. A mechanical engineer,

he co-founded EchoCath Inc. on Route 1 North.

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