That scrappy voter auction website that has riled America's pollsters skirted yet another siege by U.S. legal critics Wednesday re-emerging under a new domain after the site's latest address, Vote-auction.com, once again was shut down by authorities.
The domain allegedly was canceled illegally by InterNIC, the central institution in the U.S. where all domain name records are stored. The Austrian holding company that purchased the voter auction site for a reported $1 from a New York college student, said in a news release that it didn't receive any notification or legal documents that support the closure.
The site was built to allow U.S. voters to put their votes for the next president up for bid. Individuals or corporations then name their price to win blocks of voters from each state.
This is the third time a version of the site was closed down. (See "Voteauction.com in trouble again.") It first went online under the domain voteauction.com but was closed down after a Chicago court deemed the site illegal. It re-emerged two days later under an altered domain name.
The site was quickly back online this morning at a number of more obscure Web addresses. The site can be reached at http://188.8.131.52 and http://voteauction.enemy.org. The site also will take root today under a number of foreign domains, including www.voteauction.cu in Cuba.
Saudi Prince doubles AOL stake
Saudi Arabia's billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal said today he planned to double his investment in America Online (AOL) to $2 billion after the Internet company posted good third-quarter results. The prince already has a $1.05 billion investment in the world's largest Internet services company.
The prince also holds investments in banks, hotels, broadcasting, airlines, computers, cars and real estate, as well as other technology firms. Alwaleed agreed in September to plunk down $50 million during the next year for shares of Priceline (PCLN) on top of his original $50 investment in the company.
Unfortunately, Priceline hasn't performed well in the market and could hit another snag today when it announces its third-quarter earnings after the market closes.
Napster investors outed
The controversial music downloading site Napster is backed in part by rock group Limp Bizkit and the University of California at Los Angeles, according to internal Napster documents obtained by the Wall Street Journal. The company prepared a list of its investors in connection with its deal this week with German music publisher Bertelsmann AG.
According to reports, UCLA invested $25,000 in May through a university committee that manages a small, high-risk-oriented fund for the school's endowment. Limp Bizkit owns 447,000 shares of Napster stock. Napster also paid Limp Bizkit $1.8 million last summer to help underwrite a national tour by the group.
Venture funding declines
For the second time in two quarters, venture capital investing declined, marking the first time in four years that funding has sunk for two consecutive quarters. But thanks to a healthy first quarter, overall venture funding reached $52 billion for the first nine months this year, compared with $37.4 billion raised for all of last year.
Venture-backed companies raised $16.1 billion in the third quarter, a 6 percent decline from the previous quarter, according to a report released Wednesday by research company VentureOne. Venture investments declined 8 percent in the second quarter.
Mideast violence played on the Net
Violence in the Middle East has spilled over to the Web as hackers supporting Israel and Palestine continue to paralyze websites in those regions, according to a report by CNET News.com citing the FBI and industry experts.
Pro-Palestinian attackers have hit at least 24 sites, and pro-Israeli attackers have hit at least 15 sites, including the websites of the Bank of Israel, the Israeli prime minister and the Tel Aviv Exchange Market. The FBI has warned that the online battle could extend to threaten government and business websites in the United States.