Start-up Enables Direct B2B Buys

By eweek  |  Posted 2001-02-12

One of the heavyweights in business-to-business e-marketplaces has resigned to start a new venture that will use Napster-like technology to power business transactions.

E. Russell "Rusty" Braziel has left his job as chairman of Altra Energy Technologies to form Netrana, a privately funded company that provides consulting and software for the creation of private exchanges and peer-to-peer marketplaces.

Braziel said his new companys software, called SpotDealmaker, will let users communicate workstation-to-workstation and buy directly without a centralized marketplace. He added that the software has no current competitors.

Other business e-commerce ventures, such as Ventro and VerticalNet, have shifted from owning struggling exchanges to providing software and consulting to exchanges. Altra is one of the most successful exchanges, handling about $2 billion per month in energy and fuel transactions. Braziel has said it will become "cash-flow-positive" this quarter.

Braziel and his partners, systems integrator Enform Technology and software firm Blue Tiger Networks, believe they can make business e-commerce succeed in industries like food, health care, paper and plastics. These are industries where exchanges have started, but not taken root.

"Were targeting markets where there are fewer players, fewer transactions and where goods arent fungible," Braziel said.

Most B2B businesses, which have been trying to reach profitability through volume, would consider that a recipe for suicide. But Braziel said exchanges can succeed if they take a fresh approach to spot markets.

Netrana will also create private exchanges for Net markets that have aggregated buyers and sellers, but dont do much online business yet.

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