Spokane Journal of Business

Buying spree has helped Netivation.com to surge

Employment grows to 180; annual sales nearly double; projections for 2000 swell

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Post Falls-based Netivation.com Inc. has acquired eight companies since its $25 million initial public offering last June, and is aggressively seeking more acquisitions, says Tony Paquin, its president and CEO.


Meanwhile, the companys overall employment has grown to about 180 people, 110 of whom are based in its Riverbend Commerce Park headquarters. The company employed just 20 people a little over a year ago.


Paquin says the companys acquisition strategy is to find and buy companies that offer highly proprietary content to complement the products and services already available on Netivation.coms two specialized Internet web sitesVotenet.com, for the political and public policy market, and MedMarket.com, for health-care professionals.


In the Internet world, you want to be a dominant player, he says. We pushed to go public last spring, and part of the reason we did that is so we could be an active player in the acquisition market.


The strategy is working, Paquin says. We have one of the largest health-care e-commerce sites on the Internet today, he asserts of MedMarket.com.


Votenet.com, for which the Post Falls-based company operates a 70-person office in Washington, D.C., is a leader in on-line tools for fund-raising for political campaigns, he says, adding that it has achieved national clout.


Netivation.com expects this week to post year-end figures for 1999, and said last month that its growth strategy likely will have pushed those revenues to $1.1 million, up from $600,000 in 1998.


Although Netivation.com, like most dot-coms, currently operates at a loss, Paquin said in February that, We are on track towards profitable operations. He added that the success of Votenet.com in this presidential election year has caused the company to revise its revenue projections for 2000 upward by between 60 percent and 80 percent, to about $15 million.


Different sites, same model


Although Netivation.coms two Internet sites seem very different, theyre based on the same business model, Paquin says.


We take a very similar approach to those markets in terms of combining software technology with business-to-business e-commerce applications, he says.


Both sites offer an array of services for their particular markets.


MedMarket.com, for example, offers discount medical books; an on-line medical equipment auction; an e-store for new medical equipment; medical practice-management software; and links to regulatory agencies and medical-equipment manufacturers.


MedMarket.com is expected to have more than 1,000 business-to-business customers by year-end, and already has more than 5,000 retail customers, the company says. Paquin is especially bullish on the potential to garner international customers for that site, saying that orders for products offered through the site already have been received from universities and health-care professionals in Europe, South America, Asia, and the Middle East.


The (Internet) medical market is very fascinating, Paquin says. He adds, Its a huge market, projected to be over $100 billion by next year.


Votenet.com offers on-line fund-raising tools; campaign-management software; web-site development and hosting for candidates and political organizations; legislative updates; and an array of search tools.


The site generates revenue in a variety of ways, including by selling access to proprietary databases, advertising on the site, and licensing part of the sites content to other Internet portals, such as ABCNews.com. In January, Votenet.com entered into a collaborative agreement with Microsoft Corp. to supply content for the software giants MSN Politics web site. Netivation.com says that deal has resulted in Votenet.coms web site receiving more than 80,000 hits a day.


After the excitement of the presidential election dies down, Votenet.com will continue offering products to state and local politicians nationwide, and to trade associations, political-action committees, and lobbyists.


That business is very strong in post-election years, Paquin says. That part of the business will peak in 2001, because we get a new Congress in 2000, and people need to spend a lot of money to lobby that Congress.


Netivations original plan was to take its business-to-business e-commerce model and expand into new markets rapidly, but Paquin says the growth and success of MedMarket.com and Votenet.com have made him alter that plan.


Well focus on these two markets for at least another year before we look at another expansion opportunity, he says.


Paquin, who mounted a political campaign for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives a few years ago, says his own political aspirations have been superceded by Netivation.coms success.


I get the best of both worlds, he says. I get to be involved in politics and run a business at the same time.

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