Simpson starts again

The founder of the internet news service 7am.com has gone into competition with the 'dumb' people to whom he sold most of his business - launching a service called 7amnews.com.

The founder of the internet news service 7am.com has gone into competition with the "dumb" people to whom he sold most of his business - launching a service called 7amnews.com.

Bruce Simpson started the breaking news service in 1997 and achieved international popularity through devices like a Java-based news ticker that was free for display on any site. He sold 66% of 7am.com to private investors in 1999 and last year resigned as editor in chief and a director of the company.

Now he has launched 7amnews.com on a similar model to the original service - quirky "exclusives" along with fast-breaking headlines from other sources. Syndication is free. Despite the strong similarity of the new name to that of the former service, Simpson insists he is not passing off.

"In fact there's a very clear disclaimer on every page of the site but I suspect they [7am.com] will get their knitting in a knot over it anyway.

"They were so dumb that they didn't keep an eye on several similar domains that had been registered by others. When the name 7amnews.com was not renewed earlier this year I picked it up and now have it pointing to the new site."

The site is also reachable via the domains news.net.nz and shockhorrorprobe.com.

Simpson says the site received more than 5000 visitors during its first day of operation yesterday. He says 7am.com reached two million visitors a month within three years of launch and says he would be "awfully surprised" if his new venture wasn't reaching a million people a month by the end of the year thanks to some "exciting new concepts" he had in mind.

"I've had a guts full of trying to get 7am.com's management to listen to commonsense or keep up the pace of innovation and service which made the site so successful," he says. "I now have no alternative but to start from scratch and create a new vehicle for my ideas.

"As a 34% shareholder in 7am.com Ltd., I'd much prefer to be investing my efforts into reviving the flagging fortunes of the site but it's just not possible to do that when the directors of the company refuse to return my calls or acknowledge my emails."

Simpson's complaints about the lack of "serious venture capital" will be familiar to readers of his Aardvark internet industry news site. He says his new venture is back only by "sweat equity" from him and some of the original 7am.com correspondents.

"Of course if someone came along with a thick wad of cash and wanted to buy in I wouldn't turn them away" says Simpson. "However, even though I have a proven track record in building very successful news sites, I expect there's more chance of being hit by a falling Russian space-station than picking up any external funding at this stage."

Simpson claims the new venture should be profitable within the year.

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