Inside move: netcos bring back spirit of 1999

Yahoo stock price doubles; Napster strikes back

Online entertainment isn’t partying like it’s 1999 again, but observers can be pardoned for feeling some boomtime deja vu. Consider:

  • The stock price of Yahoo! has doubled since January, and it just bought an online search rival for $1.6 billion.

The takeover target? Overture Services (nee GoTo.com), a once-reviled spinoff of Bill Gross‘ Idealab incubator.

  • The comatose IPO trade has revived enough that a company is about to sell stock in an indie film. Civilian Pictures first announced such plans at the 2000 Sundance Film Festival. Three months later, the tech wreck iced those plans for three years.

Of course, 2003’s biggest IPO will be Google, the search engine superstar that spurred Yahoo!’s Overture overture.

  • Napster is back, and so are Napster lawsuits.

Roxio has burned a copy of Napster’s name onto Pressplay, the online retailer it bought from two labels.

Meanwhile, BMG is fending off a $17 billion suit by other labels for its investment in Napster back in pre-Roxio, pre-bankruptcy days.

  • While the labels’ lawyers disport themselves, more sophisticated Napster successors are arriving. The latest trend: file-swapper anonymity, complicating anti-piracy efforts.

  • Legal music services are suddenly hot, too, thanks to Apple’s success (5 million tracks sold in two months). And Buy.com was the first of several online giants to launch a music store last week, backing it with $40 million in ads.

  • There’s even talk of micropayments, at a panel of online execs on selling stat-driven sports analysis to rabid fans.

As the French say, plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose.

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