Separate Plans, Same Target

Separate Plans, Same Target<@VM>Techtoon

Steve LeSueur

By Steve LeSueur, Editor

Two new Internet companies have entered the Washington scene, both aiming to create online communities of federal government employees and military personnel. and are each vying to become the key resource and first stop for government workers who want the latest news and easiest-to-use online services.

I talked recently with the chief executives from both companies to learn how they expect to make money from these ventures. Steve Baldwin of PlanetGov and John Whitney of fedamerica are heading toward the same destination, but as I found out, are taking different paths to get there.

Baldwin launched PlanetGov late last month amid much fanfare and celebration designed to attract as many viewers as possible to the new site. And to keep viewers coming back, he has hired some top journalists, including Mike Causey, who previously wrote the Washington Post's "Federal Diary" column.

"Our focus is on providing content that is valued by our audience," Baldwin said.

Whitney has taken a more low-key approach with fedamerica, trying first to build up a base of subscribers with weekly e-newsletters containing information about pay, benefits and other issues important to government workers. In one year he has built up a base of 300,000 subscribers.

The next step is to put up the online services that will actually begin generating revenue for the company. "Our model is to build the traffic first and then put it all together in one site," Whitney said.

Both men make persuasive cases for their companies. Read about their business plans in this week's front-page story and make your own judgment about their chances for success.

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