- An ex-felon and central figure in the Heaven's Gate cult
suicide is the latest Internet millionaire.
- He's Nicholas Matzorkis, 36, founder of US Search.com,
a five-year-old company that began trading yesterday in a mixed day for
new Internet public offerings.
- US Search, which boasts it can find anyone in American
using public records, found little support among Wall Street investors,
skidding more than 22 percent to 615/16, off 21/16.
- Even though it was comparatively a flop, the IPO enriched
Matzorkis by nearly $12.7 million.
- Matzorkis rose to sudden fame two years ago after he
made the grisly discovery of the 39 cult suicide victims in Los Angeles.
He employed 15 of them as World Wide Web page designers for US Search.
- But the notoriety turned sour after Ohio authorities
recognized him on TV as a fugitive they had sought for seven years for
an old auto theft conviction he ducked in Cleveland.
- The Beverly Hills entrepreneur was jailed briefly and
allowed to serve his 1989 felony conviction with community service. But
it nearly ruined his company, which hasn't turned a profit. It posted a
$6.8 million loss on $9.2 million revenue last year.
- He sold control last year to two movie producers, Peter
Locke and Don Kushner, and gave up his president's post of US Search and
a board seat. Matzorkis retained the title of Senior Strategist at a salary
of $175,000 a year. His 1.8 million shares, or 10.4 percent of the company,
are held in a trust by Rockefeller scion, Nick Rockefeller. The trust votes
its shares in line with Kushner and Locke, producers of movies such the
new release, "Picking Up the Pieces," starring Sharon Stone and
- Another 'Net IPO, Juniper Networks, came out a huge winner.
- Juniper, in the marketplace just six months selling Internet
routers, more than tripled in its first trading day, settling at 98, up
64 on volume of 7.6 million shares.
- Another IPO winner was Stamps.com Inc., which wants to
sell postage over the Internet. It rose 24 percent to 1311/16, up 211 16.
- The year-old company has raked up $7.9 million in debt
and doesn't have any revenue yet because the U.S. Postal Service hasn't
yet approved its application to resell postage electronically.
- Stamps.com also was sued last week by postage meter giant
Pitney Bowes on patent infringement claims.
- The man who has run Stamps.com since last fall is John
Payne, whose shares are valued at $20.5 million. The last company he headed,
a wireless software firm, Airmedia, filed for bankruptcy protection this