NOTHING BUT NET

VENUS AND MARS: When it comes to their online shopping preferences, men might as well be from Mars, and women from Venus, according to fresh research from Ernst & Young. The sexes agreed on their three favorite sites, but that’s where their tastes diverged.
The Ernst & Young study of 1,200 U.S. Internet users found that the top sites for both groups were Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com and CDNow. After that, men tend to favor sites specializing in electronics, entertainment, home goods and office supplies, while women largely prefer sites featuring health and beauty products, apparel and e-greetings.
Notably, the consulting firm’s analysis showed that while women are buying more apparel online than men are, the gulf is not a huge one. Approximately 30 percent of the women surveyed said they had bought women’s clothing on the Web, compared with 21 percent of the men. At the same time, 29 percent of the men canvassed said they’ve purchased men’s wear online, compared with 20 percent of the women who said they’d done so.

ALLOY’S ALLY: Alloy Online, an Internet destination aimed at teens, said last week it had closed on an investment from Liberty Digital, giving Liberty, an investor in interactive TV and Web sites, a one-sixth stake in Alloy, in exchange for about $10 million in cash and 16.6 percent of unrestricted Liberty Digital common stock, or 837,740 shares.
As part of the deal, Liberty, based in Los Angeles, has received around 2.9 million shares of newly issued Alloy stock. Lee Masters, Liberty Digital’s president and chief executive officer, has joined Alloy’s board of directors.
Master said in a statement that the companies would work together to develop interactive television offerings for teens. Liberty provides music programming and related services for the audio, video and Internet markets. Alloy, based in Manhattan, sells apparel, accessories and home goods online and through its catalog to members of Generation Y.
The developments come at a time when many Internet investments are being scaled back, following turbulence in technology stocks, including e-commerce players like Alloy. Alloy has been affected by the market’s recent vicissitudes. It closed Thursday at 8 13/16, off 1 5/16 and just shy of its 52-week low of 8 3/4. It has traded as high as 23 3/16 during the last 12 months.

STOREWIDE.COM A BIG HIT? HitDomains.com is set to conduct an auction later this month for the domain name “Storewide.com,” as a package with the domain name Storewide.net.
Hit Domains, based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., has set the starting bid at $500,000.
Based on the recent sales of domain names such as Autos.com for $2.2 million, and WallStreet.com for $1.03 million, Web watchers are projecting the equally broad-based Storewide.com name could command in excess of $1 million.

IPO ON HOLD: Alta Vista, the Internet portal with links to Women.com, among other sites, has postponed its initial public offering, which had been planned for today, according to lead underwriter Morgan Stanley Dean Witter. The portal, majority owned by Internet incubator CMGI Inc., had been set to offer 14.8 million shares that were to have been priced last week.
Alta Vista, one of the Net’s longest-running search engines, has had tough luck in its timing with investors. It originally tried to go public in 1996, in an offer that was pulled because of poor market conditions. CMGI, which gained control of Alta Vista last summer, has worked to transform the site from a search engine into a major e-commerce portal. Alta Vista was subsequently acquired by Compaq Computer Corp., which spun it off last year.
For the quarter ended Jan. 31, Alta Vista lost $272 million on sales of $50.9 million.

GOMEZ GETS SET: Gomez Advisors, a Web site that critiques other sites, has filed a registration statement with the Securities and Exchange Commission in connection with a possible initial public offering of the company’s stock. Merrill Lynch & Co. is the lead underwriter, according to the statement, which did not indicate an offering price range. U.S. Bancorp Piper Jaffray and Robinson-Humphrey are co-managers of the deal.