H!TS, a new web-business zine from the Herring

Rohit Khare (khare@mci.net)
Sun, 1 Jun 1997 19:34:18 -0400

Continuing our Herring sponging...

They have a new spinoff magazine, H!TS, about web-based business. The cover
of issue #2 is Christie Hefner on the success of Playboy.com


"The difference, though, is that as one of the most popular entertainment
sites today, playboy.com has an advertising business model that not only
covers the costs of the site but is profitable.Hefner didn't anticipate the
new partners that promptly sought to work with her online team. "We found
out that the majority of people who wanted to advertise on our site and
spend the most money were not print advertisers from the magazine," says
Hefner. "The majority of them were small companies that had made a
significant commitment themselves to commerce on the Net." Companies like
CNet, Amazon.com, SportsLine USA, Mercury Mail, and I/Pro suddenly found a
common bond with Playboy. The company hired two full-time salespeople and
contracted Softbank to help reach the mecca of new potential advertisers."

The other treat is another look at Bill Gross' ideaLab:


"Modeled after Thermo Electron, a 40-year-old umbrella corporation that has
spun out 18 public companies in the biomechanical engineering space,
idealab typically commits a maximum of $250,000 to each business idea it
decides to pursue. Investments are made in all types of Internet-related
companies, from Web content to Internet software tools; the only area
avoided is hardware. If an idea has merit, idealab seeks outside investment
from venture capitalists or individual investors. One investor is Steven
Spielberg, who has put money not only in the company but in every one of
its ventures as well.
Since its founding in January 1996, idealab has already produced 18 private

Here's the kicker, though: ideaLab is still very much *Gross's* ideas:

Hits: Is idealab's research mostly based on your own ideas?
Gross: Out of the 18 ideas we're working on, 2 have been brought in from
the outside. We welcome them, but the research we take on is based on
matching a project to the programmers I've hired. We see a lot of great
ideas, and we say, "That's an incredible idea. Great investment. Great
upside. But we don't have anything to add to it." If we can't add value to
the concept by making it better, we don't want to bring it in. We have
actually had to turn down things we thought were very good investments
saying, "We are not here just to invest."
Hits: How did you develop all this technology in only nine months?
Gross: I would say good programmers. They're all from Cal Tech--hardworking,
smart people. I don't know how else to explain our success without
sounding egotistical and saying, "We're better." We work hard and have a
lot of good ideas, and we work efficiently. We have some really great
experts in different areas of programming and algorithms.
We've made a lot of progress in a short time. I wish I had some other
magical secret. Mostly, I believe the difference between a superstar
programmer and a good programmer is huge, and we have a lot of superstar