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Napster Inc.’s Web site on Wednesday at times displayed the company’s cat logo on a tombstone with the phrase “Ded Kitty” written on it. At other times, it simply said “Napster was here.” Now, as Internet industry observers compete to write its epitaph, the online music provider is staring at a swift end to a once-promising story. Rick Chance, managing director of Napster financial adviser Trenwith Securities LLC, said he was meeting with company creditors Wednesday before trying to line up a new buyer. A U.S. bankruptcy court Tuesday denied Bertelsmann AG’s $9 million deal to buy Napster, forcing the company to shut down and plan to liquidate. “We have to see if there is any interest in the technology and the brand absent the management team and employees who are no longer there,” he said. “We’re going to be looking for the shortest period of time. The more time that goes on, the more problematic it becomes to hire the employees.” A Napster spokeswoman said the company expected to file for Chapter 7 relief as early as Wednesday. “The value of the technology is severely diminished when you don’t have the engineers who created it, because like most new technology by startups, there’s not a lot of documentation, so you need the people who are really familiar with it,” she said of the company’s decision to liquidate. But Chance disputed published reports that Redwood City, Calif.-based Napster would need a $30 million capital infusion to bring its paid music file-sharing service to market. “There are other ways of rolling out the business with much less capital than that,” he said. “They could do it incrementally without so much capital.” GartnerG2 analyst Mike McGuire said another online music company could still have interest in buying Napster. “I don’t think it’s abundantly clear what’s going to happen,” he said. “It could be someone we’ve never heard of with an application we’ve never heard of that wants to create a peer-to-peer environment.” �Copyright 2002, The Deal, LLC. All rights reserved.

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