Zapata Zaps Cyberspace Venture

Zapata finally got zapped.

The food processor turned Internet huckster said Thursday it is canceling its 31 planned Web acquisitions as it "re-evaluates" its strategy.

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ZAPATA (ZAP)
The Houston-based Zapata (ZAP), with its deep ties to old Texas money, created a cyber-stir in the summer when it launched a much-ballyhooed bid for the search engine Excite.

At the time, wags dissed the attempt as a shameless effort at self-promotion, jokingly suggesting the home-page name "www.fishoil.com."

Excite (XCIT), which at the time had a market capitalization that was five times larger than Zapata's, rejected the bid.

Zapata insisted the bid was a serious one and pointed to wide-ranging plans for acquiring Web properties as proof of its commitment to cyberspace.

Now, Zapata has shelved those plans, as well as a plan to spin off its online division, called Zap Corp.

Zapata stock dropped 1/4 to 7. Amid the summer's Internet mania, shares changed hands in the mid-20s.

But even in this time of online pizza ordering, housing searches and grocery shopping, the claim of "synergy" between a food-processing company and an Internet search engine seemed a bit of a stretch.

Written By Brenon Daly