This Year’s Model

While independent exchanges are stalling, industry-led trading hubs are gaining in popularity. Here's what we found when we examined E-marketplaces in four industries: metal, chemicals, paper, and energy.

Aluminium.com (www.aluminum.com)

Details: Independent. Went live April 2000.

Skinny: Aluminium.com backers include venture capitalists Divine interVentures, Dot Com Ventures, and DS Capital, as well as investment house Bear Stearns … Smaller, multi-metal player uses UK spelling for site name. Operators also say, “What’s for pudding?” when they want dessert … Company inked deal in September with metals-Russia.com (www.metals-russia.com), virtual gateway to Russian metal industry … Site was redesigned in October, just six months after launch … When you type in aluminum.com, you get bounced to aluminium.com. It’s a strange world we live in.

Chemicals

Big Picture: This $1.7 trillion global industry has everything: two consortium exchanges heading for a showdown, two independent exchanges in battle, and dead and dying exchanges littering the ground. What’s more, neutrals like FreeMarkets (www.freemarkets.com) may be eyeballing the commodity side of the chemicals market. Trouble? Possibly. Vertical exchanges may provide useful services, but FreeMarkets is a powerful player.

Elemica (www.elemica.com)

Details: Consortium. Scheduled to go live around press time.

Skinny: Gorilla of chemical industry exchanges. Backers include Dow and DuPont. “They could walk away from this investment and it wouldn’t even show up on their bottom line at year-end,” says Eriksen … Elemica’s CEO came over from Paper-Exchange — more proof that independent exchanges are going out of favor … With name like Elemica, site should remove unwanted freckles.

Envera (www.envera.com)

Details: Consortium. Launched March 2000.

Skinny: More dynamic than Elemica, Envera owned by — and serves — smaller chemical companies. But then, smaller than Dow includes most planetary objects … Envera playing delicate game, says AMR’s Eriksen. If site can lengthen its lead and gain more independence from partners like Enron, it could challenge Elemica and capture sizable market share … Envera now supplies dry van trucking and other logistics services.

ChemConnect (www.chemconnect.com)

Details: Consortium. Went live June 1999.

Skinny: Users seem to like it. “We tested a lot of sites for global reach, suppliers, and so forth,” says Angelo Brisimitzakis, vice president, global supply chain for Great Lakes Chemical Corp., which uses ChemConnect. “Except for a few strategic materials, every other material in balanced supply or long supply is posted on [ChemConnect's] World Chemical Exchange …” Investors include SAP Ventures, part of giant ERP specialist SAP AG … Since early 2000, site has operated corporate trading rooms — private auctions for customers. Focus remains all chemicals, though.

CheMatch.com (www.chematch.com)

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