TargitMail Up for Sale Amid Spam Allegation

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Permission-based e-mail marketer TargitMail, Portsmouth, NH, signed a letter of intent this week to be acquired by iiGroup Inc., Boca Raton, FL, for an undisclosed amount. The company also denied allegations that it was a spammer.

The deal for privately held TargitMail, which is incorporated as Global Technology Marketing International Inc., is expected to close next month. iiGroup integrates "new economy business concepts with traditional business practices" and owns Travlang.com, a foreign language and travel Web site, among other properties.

TargitMail's sales rose to nearly $7 million this year, from about $2 million the previous year, iiGroup said. The e-mail marketer is expected to generate more than $20 million in sales for 2001.

Craig Sizer, a spokesman for iiGroup, said the TargitMail acquisition is contingent upon iiGroup's ability to raise $8 million to $12 million in capital. He would not say how much the company was paying for TargitMail.

"We plan on using TargitMail like a hub," Sizer said. "It's very synergistic. We plan to do cross-advertising with our other properties."

One of those properties is NuCell Wireless Corp., a supplier of wireless telephones and accessories. The company may use TargitMail to push ads to subscribers using NuCell's products.

"With NuCell, we can put out an ad for accessories, for example," Sizer said.

Also last week, TargitMail was hit with allegations of being a spammer for an e-mail sent in early December advertising the JobsOnline service. The message went out by mistake to 300,000 people, said Walt Rines, TargitMail's president. It is not the first time TargitMail has been hit with spamming charges.

"For the record, TargitMail does not and will not ever spam," Rines said. He admitted, however, that the message was sent unsolicited to thousands of addresses.

"Every once in a while, someone screws up and makes a mistake," Rines said. "We didn't do the necessary due diligence on a new list that we later found out was bought from Network Solutions."

He explained that the person responsible for the mistake is no longer with the company and that safeguards have been put in place to prevent a repeat. The company now has three people performing due diligence checks, rather than just one.

"We got between 50 and 80 complaints," Rines noted. "We knew then something was horribly wrong. We send out 3 [million] to 4 million messages a day and usually only get 20 or so complaints."

Rines said he did not know whether executives at iiGroup were aware of the spamming allegations against TargitMail. He said he does not believe it would have any impact on the deal. Sizer, of iiGroup, said the company was not aware of any such allegations.

Rines also said there were "some fanatics out there" who were blowing a "little mistake" way out of proportion. He was referring to some people who frequently monitor the news.admin.net-abuse.email newsgroup and have taken Rines and TargitMail to task for the unsolicited message.

"If there had been anything else in the last two years, you would have heard about it by now," he said. "I was like Frankenstein's monster, with people following me with pitchforks because of this. I would never throw away what we've built for one stupid ad."

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