January 1999

ONElist started 1999 on solid ground. We had just received our first major funding, we had quit or were in the process of leaving our day jobs, and we were ready to expand the company.

January 6, 1999 – Status Report

From: ONElist Tech Support <admin@ONElist.com>
Date: Wed Jan 6, 1999 3:57pm
Subject: Status Report

Status Report for ONElist.com

Thank you for using ONElist. We continue to improve the service, based on the many suggestions from our users. Over the past two months, we’ve been able to add several new features, including:

  • Download Users
    Moderators can now download as a text file the list of email addresses of their subscribers.
  • Manager Privileges
    List managers can now have restricted privileges.
  • Redesigned web site
    We’ve changed our web site so that it no longer uses frames. We’ve also made the User Center easier to use.
  • New Lists History
    You can now view the past week of New Lists.
  • Moderated users
    Individual subscribers can now be moderated, which means that their posts need to be approved before being sent to the list.
  • Subscriber Profiles
    We have added an option so that list managers can decide whether they wish to have profiles of their subscribers available for viewing by other subscribers.

Note: We will be turning on the Subscriber Profiles function in one week. If you do not wish to have that feature available to your subscribers, please change the configuration of your list before then. You can do this through the Change List Attributes link on the Manage List screen for your list.

We are continuing to add new features and improve the ONElist system. Our goal is to make ONElist the best possible e-mail community system. To do that we need your feedback. How can we make it better? How can we make it easier to use? What features are missing?

Please email your comments to comments@onelist.com


The ONElist Team

January 11, 1999 – Funding Press Release

Money is only one of the currencies that Venture Capitalists deal in. One of the others is press exposure. And one of the main ways to achieve this is through press releases. Below is the press release issued by CMGI and Bertelsmann Ventures announcing the funding of ONElist. We had very little to do with this press release. I remember having to pester Deirdre Moore, head of marketing for CMGI, just to get a copy of the press release before it went out. Joe Gillach and I hurriedly worked to make sure that it reflected ONElist’s interests.

There is a certain art to crafting press releases. There are many parts to a good press release, and one of those parts is a quote from the CEO or other high-level company manager. In the press release below, for example, I’m quoted talking about our Venture Capital partners. What I learned during this process is that the CEO almost never writes the CEO quote. Marketing crafts the press release, and the CEO signs off on it.

CMG@Ventures and Bertelsmann Ventures Team For Investment in ONElist.com

Leading Provider of Internet E-Mail Communities to Tap
Business Synergies In CMGI and Bertelsmann Internet Portfolios

ANDOVER, MA—January 11, 1999 — @Ventures III, the affiliated venture capital arm of CMGI, Inc. (NASDAQ: CMGI), and Bertelsmann Ventures, the independent venture capital fund of Bertelsmann AG, today announced a joint minority investment in ONElist, Inc., the leading provider of e-mail community services. Financial terms of the investment were not disclosed.

Founded in 1998 and headquartered in Silicon Valley, ONElist (http://www.ONElist.com) provides free e-mail communities via the Internet. Users can search for or subscribe to tens of thousands of communities on different topics or create their own. ONElist has a wide range of user created communities, on topics ranging from genealogy to military spouse support, from Muscular Dystrophy to the pop music group ‘N SYNC.

“ONElist has developed a unique service that allows online consumers to create and promote their own email communities based on common interests,” said David Wetherell, chairman and CEO of CMGI. “ONElist’s service is highly complimentary to other companies within the CMGI family. ONElist has already begun discussions with a number of CMGI affiliates, and we intend to exploit these synergies further in the months ahead.”

Added Wetherell, “The added bonus of this new investment is the expansion of our relationship with Bertelsmann, already an important international partner for Lycos. CMGI’s diverse family of Internet companies, combined with Bertelsmann’s vast media properties, provides ONElist with a tremendous opportunity to expand upon their success.”

“We’re very excited about ONEList’s compelling service,” said Jan Henric Buettner, general partner, Bertelsmann Ventures. “The ability of online communities to capture a large consumer base with a strong viral growth component is one of the most thrilling phenomena of the Internet. Bertelsmann has a long history of developing vertical community concepts and we intend to leverage those skills, as well as the Bertelsmann affiliated properties, to help ONElist become a very successful business on the Web.”

“This investment by CMGI and Bertelsmann represents a major validation of ONElist, and we’re thrilled to be working with companies of their stature. This is a tremendous opportunity for us to work with their portfolio companies to reach millions of new users, and to expand upon our leadership in this space,” said Mark Fletcher, President and CEO, ONElist.

About ONElist, Inc.

Based in Silicon Valley, CA, ONElist, Inc. is the premier provider of free E-mail communities via the Internet. The ONElist service can be located at http://www.onelist.com.

About Bertelsmann Ventures

Based in Santa Barbara, CA, and focusing on Internet-based investments, Bertelsmann Ventures is the independent venture capital fund of Bertelsmann AG, one of the world’s largest media companies.

About CMGI

A recognized leader in the Internet arena, CMGI (NASDAQ: CMGI) combines operating companies with strategic venture investments to create a broad and diverse set of businesses delivering Internet solutions. Microsoft, Intel and Sumitomo hold minority positions in CMGI. The CMGI Internet Group consists of its majority-owned subsidiary companies ADSmart, Engage Technologies, NaviSite, NaviPath, Planet Direct, Magnitude Network and ZineZone.

Friday, January 15, 1999 – They Want a New CEO

A few days after the press release announcing our funding went out, I received a call from assistant to Peter Mills, one of our CMGI venture partners. Peter and Jon Callaghan, our CMGI board member, wanted to meet with me at their office. Through the funding process and some meetings afterwards, I had spent some time with Jon and Peter, but the relationship was still new. We hadn’t even had our first board meeting yet. The meeting was set for the end of the day, Friday January 15.

The meeting lasted about an hour and was in Jon’s office. The building that CMGI occupied was an older, two story wood structure that they shared with a small electronics company. I never figured out what the electronics company did, except that they always looked like they were soldering ancient circuit boards pulled from machines dating back to the Paleolithic Era.

Jon and Peter spent the meeting telling me that while I had done a good job starting the company, they thought that I was not appropriate to be the CEO of ONElist. While they had not spent a great deal of time with me yet, they had started to get the feeling that I was ‘not CEO material.’ This was a shock to me. We hadn’t even had a board meeting yet. I was scrambling to get my company together, and they wanted to bring in a new CEO. Throughout the entire hour meeting, I think I maybe uttered no more than a few sentences. I was shocked. We ended the meeting without anything being decided. I was to “think about things.”

Numb, I went home and took my girlfriend out for pizza and beer. I was so totally stunned that I wasn’t able to tell her, or my family, about the meeting until the next day. In a word, things sucked.

January 20, 1999 – ONElist ONE Year Anniversary

From: ONElist Tech Support <admin@ONElist.com>
Date: Wed Jan 20, 1999 12:59pm
Subject: ONElist Anniversary!

The ONElist Status Report

ONElist Turns ONE Year Old!!

This week is ONElist’s ONE year anniversary. With the creation of the anole@onelist.com list one year ago, we began our amazing journey as the premiere provider of E-mail communities.

To celebrate our anniversary, we have created a new feature on the ONElist web site – ONElist of the Week. This feature will allow us to highlight some of the many different ways in which people are using ONElist.

List managers, this is a great way to get some exposure for your ONElist. How are you using ONElist in a unique and interesting way?

Subscribers, have you had an interesting experience with ONElist you are willing to share?

How has ONElist changed your life?

We are currently accepting submissions for the ONElist of the Week. To submit your list or story, please visit the ONElist home page, at http://www.onelist.com and click on the _Share your Story_ link. We will begin sharing the ONElist of the Week soon!

Thanks again for a terrific first year!!

The ONElist Team

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