MADISON, Wis. -- In the fast-paced, topsy-turvy world of dot-comdom, nothing's a sure bet -- not even shutdowns.
In the latest case, FoodUSA, which launched its e-commerce site as a trading platform for meat and poultry last April, remains open and is active, according to an executive who spoke with SN.
Tom O'Connell, the company's chief marketing officer, said, however, FoodUSA is "exploring options" with various groups that could include a buyout, merger or new round of financing.
"We're working on some different programs we might explore over the next week," he said.
The statement contradicts one made earlier in the week attributed to Rod Heller, FoodUSA's founder and chairman. He was quoted as saying the site had ceased operations and was shutting down after a tentative deal to sell the company fell through.
"Rod hasn't been involved with the day-to-day operations of FoodUSA for some time now," O'Connell said in discussing Heller's contradictory remarks.
Heller blamed competition from Commerce Ventures, processor-sponsored marketplace funded by IBP, Tyson Foods, Gold Kist and the red meat subsidiaries of Cargill and Farmland Industries. The organization, announced last April 11, remains under development, but apparently kept industry decision makers on the sidelines in regards to choosing a virtual trading platform.
"Commerce Ventures froze the market," Heller told UpsideToday.com. "Meat and poultry traders [are acting] like a deer caught in headlights."
The $20-million venture, involving six of the nation's biggest meat and poultry processing companies, immediately became the focus of at least one member of Congress, Sen. Paul Wellstone (D.-Minn.), who sought a Department of Justice antitrust investigation.
FoodUSA initially scored a coup in the B2B dot-com marathon when it formed an alliance with the American Meat Institute, the Reston, Va.-based national meat and poultry trade association. That affiliation, which allows AMI members preferred access to the Web site and its trading partners, remains intact, said O'Connell.