Rumors Swirl After FoodUSA.com Founder Incorrectly Says the Company Is Done

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Rumors of FoodUSA.com's demise spread across the online food industry last week after the company's founder erroneously told industry site Just-food.com that his company was shutting down operations.


"We're not closing our doors, contrary to what is going around out there," said Tom O'Connell, chief marketing officer at FoodUSA, Madison, WI.


O'Connell said his firm's founder, Rod Heller, although an active board member, has a limited role in day-to-day operations and misinformed the site of his company's plans. Phone calls escalated all day Friday as the rumor became more prevalent, he said.


O'Connell admitted the public relations gaffe was embarrassing for his firm. Although, he said, the erroneous statement did carry some weight - FoodUSA.com is in financial trouble.


"We are low on funding," he said. "We are going through what a lot of other dot-coms are experiencing. That's not to say that we won't be around for a very long time. But I'm not going to sit here and try to paint a rosy picture. We're still going though, and that's the key to this thing."


O'Connell said his company, an Internet stand-alone handling meat and poultry trading, expected to hammer out a deal over the weekend with one of a handful of undisclosed firms that could result in a buyout, merger or additional outside investments.


He said an announcement about the meetings would likely happen today or tomorrow.
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