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  • lovevultures lovevultures Feb 1, 1999 11:09 AM Flag

    ARTICLE - Daily News - history of CMGI (

    His Net Worth Soars
    Cyber-firm
    investor
    has the golden touch

    By AMY FELDMAN
    Daily
    News Business Writer

    avid Wetherell is emerging
    as the Warren Buffett of the Internet. The
    44-year-old founder of a suburban Boston company called CMGI,
    which invests in tiny Internet companies and then sells
    shares to the public, is little known outside his
    cyber-circle.

    But some of the companies CMGI has picked, including
    Net search engine Lycos and Web site group GeoCities,
    have become multi-billion-dollar successes, providing
    extraordinary returns.

    If there was any doubt CMGI was a
    player � perhaps the player � in financing Internet
    entrepreneurs, that was put to rest last week when Yahoo! agreed
    to buy GeoCities in a megabucks deal that will net
    CMGI a cool $1 billion for its shares.

    "It was
    a hard choice for us, and somewhat bittersweet,"
    said CMGI's Peter Mills, Wetherell's West Coast
    partner and the man behind the GeoCities deal. "We think
    it could have been a really substantial player in
    its own right, and in a lot of ways we would just as
    soon seen that happen," he said.

    But when
    money talks, the financiers at CMGI have no choice but
    to listen, and the money has been talking a lot
    lately. The stock market value of the New York Stock
    Exchange-traded holding company has soared past $5.6 billion � an
    increase of 129% in January alone � and an incredible
    14-fold the past 12 months.

    That makes Wetherell,
    who holds a 20% stake in CMGI worth $1.1 billion, one
    of America's richest men. In an e-mail, Wetherell �
    known to spend long hours online � cited time
    constraints in declining to talk with the Daily
    News.

    But his story is the story of these investment-crazed
    times: a man who rode the waves of the Internet and Wall
    Street's love affair with cyber-stocks long before they
    had caught the public's attention.

    "He's just
    been a money machine," said Ken Winston, an analyst at
    Needham & Co.

    An intense man with a reputation as
    a workaholic, Wetherell is the youngest of six
    children in a Connecticut farm family. He studied math and
    education at Ohio Wesleyan University and planned to become
    a teacher � until he discovered his love for
    computer programing.

    After a couple of false
    starts, Wetherell founded the company that became CMGI in
    1986 with the purchase of a direct mail company called
    College Marketing Group. Wetherell built up that company,
    which sold lists of professors and their courses to
    textbook publishers, and took it public.

 
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