For APBnews.com, Crime Doesn't Pay

SAN FRANCISCO (06/14/2000) - APBnews.com got an infusion of cash Tuesday, but it wasn't quite the amount that the site needs. Nonetheless, the cash-poor crime site will gladly take it.

APB received $1,000 from the National Press Club - first prize for best journalism site among U.S. news media. The company also won honorable mention in the Press Club's Freedom of the Press category for the company's "Disclosure Denied" series, which published the financial disclosure forms of all 1,600 federal judges. A representative from the National Press Club said the company was tabbed for the awards before it shut its doors.

Just last week, APB fired 140 employees and reduced operations after it ran out of money. As of Tuesday, APB was still in talks with media companies about a wide range of deals, according to a representative. Sources close to the discussions said APB is in talks with News Corp., which owns Fox, and NBC. APB was waiting for an answer from a "strategic investor," according to a memo sent out Tuesday by APBnews CEO Marshall Davidson to employees who had volunteered to stay. But soon after, Davidson sent this bad news:

"We just heard back from the strategic investor. They decided not to go forward with an investment in APB." A source familiar with the NBC talks said APB is trying to sell a majority stake to an outside investor for as little as $10 million, putting the valuation of the entire company at about $15 million. NBC, however, is reluctant to invest. Last year, APB closed a $20 million round of funding that put its value at $104 million. Since then, Internet companies have taken a hit on Wall Street. Web media companies, in particular, have suffered.

Also last week, Salon.com slashed its expenses by 20 percent, firing 13 workers and shutting its Seattle office. And recently, the CBS Internet group fired 24 workers. The National Press Club award is just the latest journalism honor granted to APB. In April, the company won a special citation for Body of Work in the first online award given by Investigative Reporters and Editors.

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