E-commerce entrepreneur

Venture: Bruce R. Spector heads the Internet company E.magination.

February 23, 1999|By Mark Ribbing | Mark Ribbing,SUN STAFF

Bruce R. Spector has helped build businesses in cable television and radio. So, where does a late-1990s communications entrepreneur like him look for a new opportunity?

Go ahead and guess. It starts with an "I" and ends -- at least in theory -- with a big fat dollar sign.

"Our region is really a hotbed for Internet development," said Spector, who sold his acquisitive Baltimore-based radio company, Benchmark Communications, in 1997 for $173 million.

"What Silicon Valley is to software, our region, I think, is to Internet development."

Spector is trying to tap that Internet expertise through the merger of two mid-Atlantic region Web design companies, E.magination Network LLC of Baltimore and BSO Associates Inc. of Washington. Spector is chairman of the new company, which inherits the E.magination name.

The new company has headquarters at the American Can Co. building in Canton and has 50 employees, about half of whom are based in Maryland.

Spector said E.magination will give other companies the funding and expertise to set up electronic commerce sites on the Web. In return, E.magination gets a share of the client's electronic commerce revenue. Spector said his new company has retail clients, but he declined to identify them.

E.magination plans to start Web sites of its own, separate from the sites it develops for clients.

Spector said his new company has no plans to go public.

Last year, E.magination came close to joining with another Baltimore-based company, Gr8 Inc.. That deal fell through because it called for E.magination founder Syd Rubin to leave the company.

E.magination's employees objected to Rubin's departure, so the deal was scrapped and Rubin stayed with E.magination. He remains with the company as its president.

"It sort of had me rethinking everything," Rubin said of the uncertainty surrounding the proposed Gr8 merger. "It was like driving away and leaving my baby."

Pub Date: 2/23/99

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