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ActiveNames Is Latest Victim of Economic Slowdown

ActiveNames Inc., a privately held company that provided a change-of-address service for e-mail, has run out of money and gone out of business.

The New York company, established in 1998, offered change of e-mail address services for both consumers and businesses. ActiveNames maintained that it wanted to become the online version of the U.S. Postal Service's National Change of Address service, providing businesses with e-mail address updates for their customers. The company's services gave consumers the ability to control which companies and individuals received their new e-mail addresses.

ActiveNames used a permission-based service and featured an e-mail plug-in program that could be downloaded from its Web site. The company had an exclusive reseller agreement with FloNetwork.

Brad Shapiro, ActiveNames' vice president of marketing and business development, said yesterday that he was stunned by the development.

“We just ran out of money,” he said. “I'm very disappointed. I worked pretty hard the past few years to establish this business, and now it's gone.”

Until today, there were three major companies providing change-of-address services for e-mail: ActiveNames, ReturnPath and Veripost. Shapiro said from the beginning that he thought there would be room in the industry for at least two companies — ActiveNames and one competitor.

“Our model will survive because we're giving consumers real value,” he predicted earlier this year. “There will be few companies able to survive in the space.”

ActiveNames' main competitor was ReturnPath, an e-mail service bureau in New York. ReturnPath chairman/CEO Matt Blumberg said he was surprised by the news about ActiveNames. He said he had received phone calls from ActiveNames' co-founder/CEO Nimo Steinbock but had been unable to get in touch with him.

“I traded voice mails with him last week,” Blumberg said. “But I didn't know what he was calling about.”

Calls to Steinbock's office were not returned.

ActiveNames said in early February that it planned to establish data centers in Europe and the Far East. It planned to create ActiveNames Europe and ActiveNames East to customize its consumer service to those markets.

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