March 14, 2003, 12:00 AM

uBid is going up for bid, owner CMGI says

Once a fast-growing e-retailer that was expected to compete head-to-head with eBay, has been slated for divestiture by CMGI Inc.


Once a fast-growing e-retailer that was expected to compete head-to-head with eBay, uBid Inc.`s has been slated for divestiture by CMGI Inc., the e-commerce venture capital firm that owns a majority stake in the online retailer, CMGI said this week.

CMGI, itself once a high-flying investor in Internet properties, reported a net loss of $186.7 million for the second quarter ended Jan. 31, double the net loss of $93.6 million in the prior quarter. The Q2 net loss is 25% wider than the year-ago loss of $148.4 million. CMGI attributes 89% of its Q2 net loss, or $166.9 million, to discontinued operations, which in addition to uBid include search engine AltaVista, which it sold to Overture Services Inc., e-mail marketing firm Yesmail Inc., which it also sold, and technology consulting firm Tallan Inc., also sold.

UBid CEO Christian Feuer declines to comment on CMGI`s plans for uBid but notes that uBid has attempted several changes in the past year, including discontinuing its consumer-to-consumer auctions, a move intended to cede that market to eBay.

In an interview late last year, Feuer said uBid was trying to present a more focused shopping experience for customers, who indicated in a survey that they were confused by uBid`s mixture of products and purchasing alternatives.

Feuer, a former marketing executive who took over as chief executive of uBid in the middle of last year, tried to revise uBid with a stronger focus on consumer electronics, launching a fixed-price Electronics SuperStore last November. But it has continued to struggle against major competitors like eBay, which also launched a consumer electronics superstore last fall.


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