In the span of a week, the company formerly known as MiningCo.com has changed its name and signed an agreement with Borders.com (NYSE: BGP) that calls for the co-branding of individual bookstores across its entire netwok of 650 topic-specific sites.
Now known as About.com (Nasdaq: BOUT), the popular Web community site, said Friday that the agreement gives Borders.com access to About.com’s content, which includes book reviews and feature articles, and gives it prominent ad placement throughout its site.
In exchange, About. com will receive advertising revenue through its promotion of the Borders brand and will also receive commissions on sales generated by its guide recommended bookstores, the company said.
“This partnership is an ideal fit for About.com,” said its CEO, Scott Kurnitt. “It adds another highly-targeted e-commerce avenue to our vertical network of top-specific sites.”
Pivotal Week For Both Companies
The agreement comes in a pivotal week for both companies. About.com is ironing out the wrinkles associated with its name change, one that it says more accurately describes its Internet services and reach. The MiningCo.com name served the company well, providing the image of a Web-savvy guide plumbing the depths of the Internet for nuggets of information. It also lent itself to snappy headlines in publications.
Borders.com has been busy of late as well. It recently announced that it would keep pace with its two main online competitors – Amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com – by slashing the price of New York Times bestseller lists hard covers and paperbacks by 50 percent.
The news was not greeted with glee on Wall St. – where investors are afraid a price war could be the harbinger of a protracted online battle to the death.
The agreement does bode well for About.com’s unique Internet service. Consisting of 650 sites with trained guides escorting visitors through their fields of expertise, About.com has always suggested it was different, and in an ad campaign unveiled earlier this month, it touts itself as providing the human touch in an impersonal Internet world.
IPO Fuels Expansion
Armed with $81 million (US$) from a March IPO, the company undoubtedly feels well-equipped to make the transition. Earlier this month, About.com announced that first quarter revenues shot up 15 fold from the 1998 first quarter to $2.4 million. However, the company still booked a pro-forma loss of $11.9 million for the quarter.
User figures for About.com are on the rise as well. Some 5.8 million unique visitors logged on to its site in March, which makes it the fastest growing of the Top 25 Web sites, the company says.
Borders.com, which made its cyberspace debut in 1997, is a subsidiary of Borders, Inc., a Ann Arbor, Michigan-based book and music superstore chain. The company operates 250 brick-and-mortar stores in the U.S. and has additional stores in the U.K., Australia and Singapore. It also owns the chain of 900 Waldenbooks stores in malls and airports across the country. Borders.com offers access to over 10 million book, music and video titles.
Borders, Inc. booked sales of $1.55 billion dollars in 1998, making it the fastest-growing book and music superstore in the industry. Soon after those results were released in April, CEO Philip Pfeffer resigned without explanation.