Exclusive: Another UK startup bites the bullet

News site the-bullet.com ceases day-to-day operations, adding to crisis in content sites

The downturn in the fortunes of dot-com companies has claimed its latest casualty: news and gossip startup, the-bullet.com.

The site is less than a year old and offers commentary, news and insider information on the publishing, new media and television industries. It has suspended day-to-day operations and will restructure, according to sources. On Monday, the site did not appear to have been updated since 9 June.

The-bullet.com could not be immediately reached for comment. Calls to its main switchboard were not answered Monday afternoon.

So-called 'content' sites are emerging as some of the worst-hit by the downturn in Internet stocks and the ebbing of dot-com mania. Salon.com, one of the best-respected online sites, recently laid off a large proportion of its staff and delayed European expansion plans, while the future of other sites, such as crime news site APBnews.com, looks even more uncertain.

Sources familiar with the market suggested more UK content sites, such as tech business news service the451.com, could also be at risk.

A cautious market and new uncertainty about Internet businesses has made it more difficult for young, profitless companies to raise investments. Content sites, with few revenue sources outside of advertising banners, have had a particularly difficult time recently, unless they have deep-pocketed backers, as is the case with Slate.com and its parent, Microsoft. Few are able to charge subscription fees, a notable exception being the Wall Street Journal's Web site.

Recent startup failures include e-tailer boo.com, which became the world's first high-profile dot-com collapse last month when it called in liquidators.

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