Excite@Home may be next dot-com to bomb


August 26, 2001



In spite of predictions of a dot-com turn-around, the number of lay-offs, closures and general bad news about Internet companies continues as a steady stream.

Excite@Home, one of the nation's largest high-speed cable television Internet access services providers, recently announced through its filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission its ability to continue operation was in serious jeopardy.

The reason boils down to simply business economics. Since the company's inception in 1999, it has been losing money hand over fist.

And while the company obtained $185 million in financing in June this year, the company will need additional funding by the end of the year.

Other factors pose a threat to the company's future, according to the SEC documents.

The company -- like others -- has been hurt by the drop in online advertising.

Excite@Home also faces being booted off the NASDAQ exchange, a move that would require it to immediately repay at least $100 million in outstanding debt. That would deplete the company's dwindling cash reserves.

"These conditions raise substantial doubt about our ability to continue as a going concern," the filing states.

Making matters worse, in many markets where Excite@Home is established, its rights as the exclusive broadband provider begin expiring next year. This would allow competing services to step in and compete in those markets.

Since Excite@Home doesn't build its own cable systems, its ability to gain new subscribers depends largely on its cable system operators' promotion of Excite's service.

Excite's roots go back a few years to the Excite.com Internet portal. At one time it was second only to Yahoo! in popularity.

Excite@Home services about 3.7 million subscribers.

CELEBRITY REAL ESTATE. If you missed your chance to bid on guitar legend Jimi Hendrix's boyhood home listed on eBay.com, you can still have a shot at a celebrity home.

The home where Madonna lived as a young girl in Rochester Hills, Mich., was listed on eBay last week, with a starting bid of $324,000.

The four-bedroom, two-bath home features 2,739-square-feet of living space. The house sits on a 1.3-acre site.

According to the listing, Madonna lived there with her father, stepmother and siblings from the sixth-grade until she left for college. The family lived in the home until it was sold in July. Madonna made frequent visits home over the years, the listing said.

The eBay listing page's hit counter is a testimony to the singer's popularity -- in four days, the site had recorded more than 18,000 page views.

At the time this column was written, three bids had boosted the price to $324,400. The house sits on a wooded lot with frontage on a golf course.

The home's starting price wasn't inflated because of its connection to the Material Girl. The listing states the price is the appraised value of the home when it was sold in July.

If you're interested in a move to a nice home in suburban Detroit, Mich., the auction continues through Sept. 20.

PIGSKIN PROGNOSTICATION. Football and basketball fans undoubtedly are familiar with the weekly radio broadcasts of Leonard Postosties, the self-proclaimed "King of Loser Picking."

For more than 40 years, his weekly prognostications have taken the form of "Leonard's Losers," a tongue-in-cheek set of predictions of the weekend's football (or basketball) games.

Leonard offers his predictions for both college and professional sports, and if you miss his broadcast on your local radio station, you can hear a replay at his Web site, wwww.leonardslosers.com.

I listened to his recent Saturday broadcast, and immediately visited his Web site to find his predictions already posted there.

If you enjoy the down-home style of his program, you'll enjoy the Web site. It' has his same Southern sense of humor, and the information you want is easy to find and never more than a mouse click or two away.

Leonard's fans may not realize the original Leonard Postosties retired last year -- but not before he handed his weekly program of prognostications -- and his Smart Pill Machine -- to his nephew, Little Leonard.

For sports fans that feel lucky, the site lets you challenge Leonard's predictions with your own. There's also a complete line of Leonard's Loser merchandise, including golf shirts, coffee mugs and more.

For sports fans, Leonard has an online sports publication called the Gridiron Gazette, focused on both professional and college teams. You can be assured that Leonard will have a prediction on the outcome of the game of your favorite pro or collegiate team.

Comments and questions about this column may be sent to jbrooks@myoldkentuckyhome.com, or visit www.myoldkentuckyhome.com on the World Wide Web.

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