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Home >Press > SF Chronicles Boomers

Media | Press Releases | Founders | Media Kit

Thursday, October 28, 1999

San Francisco Chronicle
Do Baby Boomers want their very own home on the Internet?

A new San Francisco startup thinks they do -- and is launching a Web site, www.myprimetime.com, to provide it.

The site is founded by three former journalists from CNNfn, with $4.25 million in backing from Hummer Winblad, one of the more prestigious venture capital firms.

MyPrimeTime offers regularly updated sections on jobs, investing, health and leisure -- topics for which scores of Web sites already exist. But MyPrimeTime says it brings value by putting all the topics on one site and by making them relevant for people between the ages of 35 and 53.

Baby Boomers -- that vast demographic bulge of 81 million people born after World War II, from 1946 to 1964 -- are not a monolithic group. Most of them don't even think of themselves as Baby Boomers, but identify themselves in other ways.

That presents a challenge to the MyPrimeTime entrepreneurs.

``For any kind of community play to work, it's essential that there's something special that holds the community together,'' said Andrea Williams, director of equity research at E-Offering in San Francisco. ``I'm not sure what it would be for Baby Boomers that they couldn't find at Yahoo or any of the other portals.''

For Boomers of a certain age, another San Francisco company, ThirdAge Media, offers a specially tailored Web site. Although the MyPrimeTime folks say ThirdAge is for older folks, ThirdAge founder and Chairwoman Mary Furlong said, ``We service people 45 and older.''

Even though Furlong declined to take on MyPrimeTime directly, it's clear that the ThirdAge site could present MyPrimeTime's most formidable obstacle. Furlong was reached in New York, where she was just taping a segment for CBS's ``The Early Show.'' That's the same CBS that in June plunked down $54 million for roughly one-third of ThirdAge Media, joining other big backers like Softbank and Si Newhouse's Advance Publications.

Furlong, an industry veteran who founded SeniorNet, notes her site's nearly three-year head start and 700,000 registered community members, and she touts that Time tabbed her as one of the 50 most important people shaping cyberspace today.

Still, MyPrimeTime execs say they're on a fast ramp, and it looks like it's true. In rehabbed brick-and- glass offices tucked behind the old U.S. Mint, the company this week announced a partnership with Fidelity, in which the mutual fund giant will sponsor its personal finance section.

Those sorts of partnerships, as well as advertising and unspecified future e-commerce deals, will form the backbone of MyPrimeTime's planned revenue stream.

It's all thanks to the fundamental premise that Baby Boomers are the biggest, wealthiest generation in U.S. history and therefore are worth targeting.

``You never before were able to micro-target an audience as large as the Boomers,'' said Craig Forman, co-founder and CEO of MyPrimeTime. ``It's only in this medium that you could tackle the aggregation of 81 million people because we tackle it person, by person, by person.''

The three founders are 38, 40 and 44 years old. ``We look at our lives as a mirror of the site,'' said Helen Whelan, another co-founder and the company president.

Note that neither site wants to offend its readers by implying that they're old, so instead, they refer to them as ``Third Agers'' or people hitting ``my prime time.'' Boomers, as MyPrimeTime's Whelan said, like to think of themselves as 10 years younger than they really are.

Media Bytes appears every Thursday in The Chronicle. Send buzz, dirt, tips and comments to fostd@sfgate.com, call (415) 777-6004 or fax (415) 543-2482.

1999 San Francisco Chronicle



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