Saturday, April 23, 2011

Firm KISS-ed With Success Bagnall, Postmedia News

Traffic numbers spurred wild ride on stock market
There was something otherworldly about the share price gyrations this week of Intertainment Media -the social media wunderkind that got its start in Ottawa a decade ago.

Intertainment shares exploded out of the gate Tuesday, soaring 56 per cent to $3.35 on the TSX Venture Exchange. Within 34 minutes, the shares had slumped 46 per cent, then finally finished the day at $2.25 per share. About 64 million shares traded hands -compared to fewer than 19 million the same day for tech giant Research In Motion.

The shares closed the week at $1.51, trading at much higher volume than usual through Thursday. At its peak on Tuesday, Intertainment had a market value of $420 million -astonishing in light of the fact its sales in fiscal 2010 barely topped $4 million.

The source of all the excitement? Software translation technology marketed by Intertainment's Ortsbo subsidiary and its spokesman, Gene Simmons, the bass guitarist for the rock group Kiss.

David Lucatch, Intertainment's CEO, revealed Monday that the Ortsbo translator was attracting more than 12 million unique visitors each month -an impressive rise since last July, when the product was launched. Lucatch compared his website's traffic with that of Facebook, which took nearly three years to reach the same level -though the comparison isn't really fair. After all, Facebook's earliest fans had to be registered with a university.

No matter -Ortsbo is certainly a hit.

That it exists owes much to the drive of several Canadian entrepreneurs.

Ortsbo's success, if that's what it proves to be, is also a vivid reminder of the mercurial nature of the game. "It's a strange thing," says John Roberts, who led the effort to create Intertainment's predecessor firm, Leitrim Group.

"The company bounces along for more than a decade, then suddenly there's frantic activity."

Read more HERE.