Table: EPO's Short Ride and Quick Slide

When the focus shifted from eyeballs to burn rates, EPO found itself cash-strapped

1995

U.S. entrepreneur Andy Klein raises $1.6 million for Spring Street Brewery in the first IPO conducted over the Web. Ola Lauritzson, 21, reads about it and starts planning an online IPO outfit for Europe.

March, 1998

While finishing his master's thesis on the Internet's role in capital markets, Lauritzson begins raising money for EPO.com, an online investment bank. He hopes EPO will become synonymous with Electronic Public Offering.

March, 1999

With just six employees, EPO.com pulls off its first IPO, an offering for Swedish clothing retailer NaturKompaniet.

December, 1999

Venture capitalists flock to Stockholm, which has nearly 1,000 dot-coms. Lauritzson, anticipating fat venture funding, moves into bigger offices and earmarks $2.5 million for a Net trading system.

January, 2000

EPO gets $10 million in financing from a syndicate that includes Credit Lyonnais Securities, BancBoston Capital Group, and Bernard Arnault's Europ@web. Lauritzson plans to return for another round by yearend.

March, 2000

EPO completes its 11th IPO but is burning through cash at an average rate of nearly $1 million per month. Lauritzson starts looking for potential merger partners.

April, 2000

As the Nasdaq plunges, Lauritzson negotiates a merger with larger German rival VEM. Although EPO shareholders will control only 42% of the new company, Lauritzson will run it.

May, 2000

Boo.com, the poster child of Swedish dot-coms, files for bankruptcy. Sensing a chill in Net stocks, VEM shareholders try to renegotiate the EPO merger.

June, 2000

EO, a new rival to EPO, launches operations in London. Unlike Lauritzson's company, EO boasts a staff of experienced investment bankers.

July, 2000

IPOs slow. Concerned about refinancing, Lauritzson pulls back on growth plans and takes steps to slow EPO's cash burn rate.

November, 2000

EPO and VEM call off merger, citing differences over strategy and control of the combined company. Lauritzson is running out of money.

December, 2000

While EO lands $15 million in fresh financing, Lauritzson's investors turn down his requests for more cash. With insolvency only days away, EPO sells itself to EO for an undisclosed percentage of EO's equity. Lauritzson takes a marketing post at the combined company.

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