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On April 30, 1996, Infonautics (based in Wayne at the time) completed its IPO and was listed on the NASDAQ.
Infonautics was co-founded in 1992 by Josh Kopelman, then a sophmore at Wharton, along with Marvin Weinberger, an entrepreneur who had previously co-founded Telebase Systems Inc., an online media company in Wayne. Weinberger was CEO and Kopelman was Executive VP with responsibility for sales & marketing. One of Infonautics' early investors and advisors was Howard Morgan, the former computer science professor at Penn turned VC who later co-founded First Round Capital with Kopelman and is a managing partner of the firm today.
Infonautics set out to become an online resource for children, providing curated content that helped young students learn and study. Its products included Homework Helper, delivered primarily via early online service Prodigy, and Electric Library, delivered via the Web. Infonautics raised close to $30 million from its IPO.
The company had difficulty selling a subscription-based service to a mass market, particularly as so much information was beginning to appear for free on the Web. In terms of technology, Infonautics also had to scramble to convert from the closed garden world of legacy online services such as Prodigy to the open Web, which really took off in the 1994-95 period. Although Infonautics developed a number of innovative Web technologies, financially it never got over the hump. Kopelman left Infonautics to start Half.com in 1999, and the company was eventually sold off in pieces.
Incidentally, the Infonautics IPO came three years to the day after the launch of the open World Wide Web with the release of royalty-free (browser) software.