The room was packed and people were standing, but Alan Sutin spotted two empty seats and made a dash. In other circumstances, the sight of Mr. Sutin running for a chair might have drawn some attention: Suits and ties still stand out in the dressed-down world of Internet start-ups. But on this mid-May afternoon, the audience at the Hilton – several hundred strong – was formally attired. There was not a T-shirt in sight.

That might seem odd for a conference showcasing the latest million-dollar – or would-be million-dollar – ideas to hit the Net. After all, the most famous, and successful, Internet businesses were founded by hacker-hobbyists more at home at Radio Shack than Brooks Brothers. But soon enough, things became clear: The subject may have been the Net, but the real focus was the money. At the podium were entrepreneurs who needed funding., a company hoping to become the Blockbuster of the Internet, with videos and snacks delivered within an hour, sought $10 million. As did the developers of 1ClickCharge, an Internet payment service. In all, 26 companies were looking for backing. And in the audience were the bankers, accountants and lawyers who could make that happen, hoping to cash in on an Internet craze that has sent stock prices soaring and made more than a few billionaires.

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