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Milken Invests $11M in MeansBusiness.com
Judith Rosen -- 1/24/00

MeansBusiness, an online database of specially indexed business book excerpts, got a fresh infusion of $11 million earlier this month from former junk-bond financier Michael Milken. Milken currently heads Knowledge Universe, a fast-growing educational conglomerate offering educational services in business and management training, child development and higher education.

Milken's $11 million investment agreement not only provides crucial capital to launch MeansBusiness (www.meansbusiness.com) but also includes $1 million in direct revenue guarantees from Knowledge Universe and its affiliated learning companies.

MeansBusiness founder David Wilcox told PW, "We're pretty excited about having gotten the backing of one of the leading financiers." Other investors include Dan Valentino, former CEO of Gemini Consulting, as well as business writers James Champy (coauthor of Reengineering the Corporation), Jeffrey Pfeffer (coauthor of The Knowing-Doing Gap) and Nitin Nohria (co-editor with Champy of Fast Forward). MeansBusiness has 30 full-time and 30 part-time staffers and plans to increase its database by 50% within the next six weeks to 600 books.

Wilcox also announced that MeansBusiness will roll out additional databases--such as MeansCareers, MeansInvestment and MeansManagement--by the end of the year. "We're envisioning Means as carrying the brand, and we've reserved 50 Web names," he said, adding, "We have to operate in Internet time."

MeansBusiness (News, Oct. 11, 1999) is based on the premise that consumers don't need to read an entire book to get its key concepts; it offers instead more than 12,000 extracts or excerpts. The MeansBusiness Web site, 1999, has been growing at "the rate of about 100 people a day," according to Patrick Lucci, v-p of communications. Recent syndication agreements with dowjones.com and bloomberg. com have helped jump-start subscriptions. While Wilcox told PW, "We haven't started spending any marketing dollars yet," he said that the company plans to earmark part of the Milken investment for just that.
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