Linthicum company joins the `dot com' crowd

KnowledgeLink henceforth known as Powerize.com

Cyber-magic

January 19, 1999|By Mark Ribbing | Mark Ribbing,SUN STAFF

Another company has jumped on the bandwagon.com.

KnowledgeLink Interactive Inc., a Linthicum-based company that helps businesses search for and retrieve news articles and other documents electronically, said yesterday that it is changing its name -- effective immediately -- to Powerize.com.

The switch is the latest example of a national trend in corporate nomenclature, the addition of ".com" to company names. The suffix originally appeared at the end of corporate World Wide Web site addresses.

However, as the Internet has become an increasingly potent economic force, more and more companies have adopted ".com" as part of their official names.

"Most definitely, everyone's doing it, because they think they can automatically transform themselves into an Internet company by adding something-dot-com to their names," said John Robb, director of Internet consulting firm Gomez Advisors Inc. in Concord, Mass.

Companies are altering their identities to associate with the Internet for one simple reason: There's gold, or at least the hope of it, in them thar cyber-hills.

On Wall Street, Internet-related stocks are rising like .comets. Amazon.com Inc., a Seattle-based online bookseller, has seen its stock jump 298 percent since Oct. 19. In the same period, the share price of Broadcast.com Inc., a Dallas Internet sports and news outlet, has grown 241 percent.

These and other high fliers may not have much more than a .com in common, and other companies see a name change as a quick way to join the party.

"The .com seems to be a trend now because Internet companies tend to have a high valuation," said Rachel Deutsch, president of Elliott van Deutsch Inc., a Falls Church, Va., marketing firm.

Gomez Advisors' Robb said not all companies that stick .com at the end of their names are true Internet companies. "They're really trying to appeal to the gullibility of investors," he said.

Michael Gallagher, Powerize.com's vice president of marketing, said the new name fits the company, which finds information using the Internet and private computer networks. "We feel it's a stronger brand name, and, to be a player in the Web world, brand is key."

The company undertook the name change, which Gallagher said cost about $50,000, in part because KnowledgeLink's corporate identity had become so diffuse. In May, the company bought two IBM Corp. information services, InfoMarket and Lotus Newsstand. One of KnowledgeLink's main products had yet another name, PerSavant. To make matters more confusing, the company did not have the rights to its most obvious Web address, KnowledgeLink.com.

Now, the company plans to bring virtually all of its operations under the Powerize.com name -- including, of course, its Web site.

"We had a whole slew of names," said President Mark Gaertner. "It made sense to brand these under a common product."

Other companies that have tacked .com to their names say the benefits can be difficult to pinpoint. On Dec. 14, Internet software company Connect Inc. of Mountain View, Calif., renamed itself ConnectInc.com. Ron Ibarra, director of administrative and business services, said he could not yet identify any concrete benefit of the name change, but "it gives us a lot more visibility."

CDKnet.com, formerly Technology Horizons Corp., is a Garden City, N.Y., sports and entertainment marketing company that says it uses the Internet heavily. Chief Executive Officer Steven A. Horowitz said "it's too soon to tell" how the rechristening may affect his firm in the long term. "From the standpoint of getting people to know it's an Internet company, I think that'll take a little while."

Back in Linthicum, executives at Powerize.com say the official spelling of the new name should include no capital letters. This lower-case-only approach represents another vogue in high-tech names, with such upstarts as Theglobe.com Inc. (officially theglobe.com inc.) leading the way.

Gallagher said there was much discussion about whether to capitalize the first letter of the name, and fashion won out over centuries of traditional English-language practice. "It seems to be the trend among .com companies," he said. "We didn't want to buck that trend."

Pub Date: 1/19/99

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