Since the dot-com days, there have been few survivors. Some of the ventures turned out to be monumental disasters, such as Webvan and Pets.com.
But the dot-com survivors are looking fairly solid. One survivor is iVillage
It seems to be working. For example, in the fourth quarter, iVillage reported a 15% increase in revenues to $18.2 million and a net profit of $2.4 million, which was up from $332,000 in the same quarter in 2003. For fiscal 2005, the company expects earnings of $11 million to $11.5 million, with revenues of $86 million to $87 million.
With its cash and stock, iVillage has been aggressively building its operations through acquisitions. The latest came this week with the purchase of HealthCentersOnline, a privately held company. The price tag was $12 million.
Founded in 1999, HealthCentersOnline runs a variety of specialized sites providing comprehensive health-care information. Some of these sites include AllergyHealthOnline.com, CancerHealthOnline.com, and FitnessHealthOnline.com.
Also, there's PediatricHealthOnline.com, NeuroHealthOnline.com, and so on. What's more, all of the content is edited by qualified physicians.
But the content is not pedantic. It certainly leverages the advantages of the Web with things such as audio/visual animations, quizzes, news, peer-support communities, and more.
This deal is in line with iVillage's purchase of Healthology in January. The strategy is simple: Credible content should lead to sponsorships and e-commerce opportunities. After all, 80% of all health-care purchase decisions are made by women. And, iVillage can monetize this content with its distribution partners, such as Microsoft's MSN
To be pragmatic, investors should evaluate the financial rationale, as iVillage's revenue stream was heavily based on advertising (roughly 50% of fiscal '04 revenues), a highly cyclical stream. It's difficult to conjecture at this point, since Healthology and HealthCentersOnline were private before being acquired, but it's hoped these acquisitions will shift iVillage's reliance on advertising revenues to smoother, more predictable sources -- higher revenue from subscriptions would make for a much smoother revenue stream, for one.
Piece by piece, iVillage is putting together a nice portfolio of focused online properties. The timing is also spot-on. Traditional media companies are making significant investments in online assets, such as the New York Times'
Fool contributor Tom Taulli does not own shares mentioned in this article.