Catcha.com Closing First Round VC Funding For MP3 Website

By Julian Matthews

Asian portal player Catcha.com is set to close its first round of venture capital for its popular MP3 music site “1mp3.com” soon.

Patrick Grove, chief executive officer, of Catcha.com hopes to get between US$500,000 and US$1 million for the popular Website which will be spun off and be developed independently. 1mp3.com was recently listed among the Top 25 search engines for MP3 in the world by industry watcher MP3Now.

“We are the positioning the site as a hub for distributing music for Asian acts,” Grove told Newsbytes. “It will be like an Asian- equivalent of Nasdaq-listed MP3.com. We will focus on unsigned acts in the region to put out their original music on the site and we are also talking to major established labels and distribution houses for partnerships.”

Grove expects a paradigm shift in the next three to five years when established ways of distributing music today will be overturned and the Internet will be play a dominant role.

“When this shift happens, the leading distributors of music on the Internet stand to gain and we plan to be one of the key players,” he said.

Earlier, Grove said Catcha.com was aiming for an IPO on the Nasdaq market by the year 2000 but a listing on a local bourse such as the Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange or Singapore Stock Exchange was more likely.

He said Catcha was also planning to expand to country-specific portals for Australia, Philippines and Thailand in addition to its present portals in Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia.

Chief operating officer Nic Lim said the company was also looking into having Chinese and Malay language versions of the Catcha.com.my portal soon.

Lim said the company had also applied to receive Multimedia Super Corridor status which qualifies them for tax breaks, world-class communications infrastructure and freedom to import foreign knowledge workers within the high-tech zone.

“We are enjoying tremendous exponential advertising growth rates of between 25- to 50 percent per month and have a hit count of 10 million per month,” he said.

Lim conceded that e-commerce and banner ad market from local companies was still weak but he expects “the tide to change.”

Set up in July by four entrepreneurs each under 25-years-old from Malaysia, Singapore and Japan, the company recently received venture capital amounting to 12.1 million ringgit (US$3.2 million) and is currently capitalized at 76.5 million ringgit ($20.1 million), making it one of the largest Internet companies in the region.

Funding came from a group of both local and overseas investors including Arboc Investments, an investment holding company for the Shaw family, Australian company Imperial Technologies, Geneva-based Alternative Investment Management Group, Hong Kong venture cap company Axiom Funds Management and private investors in Malaysia, Singapore and Hong Kong.

Catcha.com is targeting a third round of investment from institutional investors and merchant bankers.

Published in Newsbytes, Oct 27, 1999.

Malaysia’s Xtremedia Closes As Asian Internet Competition Grows

By Julian Matthews

Award-winning Malaysian news and information Website Xtremedia closed its virtual doors earlier this week after 20 months of operations.

The company cited “increasing challenges in the Internet market” as the reason for the closure.

Website owner BRG Interactive Digital Media Sdn Bhd (IDM) sunk over 2 million ringgit (US$526,000) into the Website before calling it quits, said executive director Gerard Lim.

“It was a matter of focus. There are two mines to mill, and we had to make the difficult decision to channel resources to only one mine,” he said.
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Lines Among ISP, ASP, VAR Blurring Says Intel AP Exec

By Julian Matthews

Internet service providers (ISPs), application service providers (ASPs) and value-added resellers (VARs) are evolving into one-stop shops for a full spectrum of Internet services instead of providing just access, according to Intel Asia Pacific ISP channels marketing manager Loke Yoon Kun.

Speaking at the Malaysia launch of the chip giant’s worldwide program to push its networking offerings, he said, “The lines among ISPS, ASPs and VARs are blurring. The new one-stop-shop role calls for value added services and products such as Web hosting and creation, e- commerce and specific networking equipment sited on customer’s premises.”
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A community of seniors

By Anita Devasahayam

NICHOLAS Negroponte, director of MIT’s Media Lab’s, once predicted that the initial population of the Internet would be under the age of 20, and above age 50.

He may be right after all — in the United States, numerous websites have been set up to cater to senior citizens.

Sites like SeniorNet offer members online computer classes, as well as discounts on software and computer related products.

The growing “silver surfer” population has also prompted big companies like IBM, Bell Atlantic, Intel and Microsoft to kick off volunteer programmes to help senior folk learn to use computer technologies. These programmes generally also include discount rates for the purchase of computer hardware and software.
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