Web currency firm joins dot-com has-beenz

Incentive-based rewards company Beenz.com Inc. will suspend its Web site operations beginning Aug. 26, the company announced on its site on Friday.

"Pursuant to the Terms and Conditions - Membership Agreement of beenz.com, the operation of the beenz economy will be terminated at 12:01 am (Eastern Standard Time - EST) on August 26, 2001. No beenz earning or spending transactions will be honored after that date and time. Any beenz remaining in a Member's account after 12:01 am (EST) on August 26, 2001 will be invalidated by beenz.com, and the Member will not be entitled to any compensation of any kind for such invalidated beenz. Thank you for participating in the beenz economy," reads the short message posted on the site.

The company, with headquarters in both London and New York, could not be reached for comment despite numerous attempts.

Launched in March 1998, Beenz.com worked by rewarding users with "beenz" for things like filling in surveys and registering with mailing lists. The beenz could then be used at other sites for items ranging from gift certificates to DVDs (digital versatile disc).

In December of last year, the company began cutting back staff, with 25 employees in its New York and San Francisco offices being made redundant and 18 people in the U.K. agreeing to "voluntary redundancies." At the time, company founder Charles Cohen pointed to the market downturn as the root of its troubles, mainly because the company was dealing almost exclusively with companies whose sole business is online.

Many businesses that had been customers were no longer in business, he said.

By May, the struggling company was looking for a white knight to buy either the company or its intellectual property, but a buyer has failed to materialize. According to a published report in The Financial Times newspaper on Friday, the 25 remaining jobs in Beenz's London office will be eliminated when the office is shut down at the end of August. A staff of about five employees will remain in New York in an attempt to soldier on and salvage what it can with a sale of the company's remaining assets, the report said.

At its height, Beenz.com employed 260 people in 13 offices and boasted it had 5 million worldwide members and about 300 traders. The company had a high profile launch funded by US$80 million in capital investment from the likes of Oracle Corp. Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Larry Ellison.

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Laura Rohde

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