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Updated from 1:44 p.m. EDT


, a Web site that once aspired to be a networking crossroads for the young and somewhat Internet-savvy, named a new chief executive Monday after searching for nearly six months.

After its stunning initial public offering and a huge advertising campaign,'s fall from Wall Street's graces has been achingly public. But the company has been remarkably resilient, and its latest attempts to start anew reflect the heart-stopping pace at which once-hot ideas have faded and careers have risen again in the Internet sector.

Charles M. Peck, formerly the senior vice president of marketing, product and organizational development of the

American Institute of Certified Public Accountants

, will begin the chief executive job on August 1. Todd Krizelman and Stephan Paternot, college buddies in their 20s who founded the company,

vacated the co-chief executive posts on January 27. (They remain stakeholders of the company.) At the time, said it expected to complete its search by the second quarter.

The New York-based company has reported consistently widening losses, as it has struggled to define itself. The company's shares, off from a 52-week high of 17 11/16, finished up 5/32, or 8%, at 2 3/32 in Monday regular trading. Shares traded as high as a split-adjusted 31 3/4 at their initial offering on Nov. 13, 1998.

After raising money in the public markets, spent heavily in subsequent quarters -- sometimes half its operating expenses -- on the seemingly ubiquitous commercials depicting young people improving their lives in amusing ways by joining online clubs.

Several Wall Street firms, including underwriters

Bear Stearns


Volpe, Brown Whelan

, which has been acquired by

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Prudential Securities

since the time of's initial public offering, have dropped their coverage of the company.


, which underwrote a secondary public offerings for, rates the company a hold.

"They need to restart their business," said Jordan Rohan, an analyst for Wit. "The centralized content model has failed on the Web unless you are a portal the size of







Selling the club-building function to weightier Web names should be chief among's new strategies, Rohan said. He declined to comment further until Peck details his plans.

But Peck disputed the notion that generating advertising profits by attracting visitors to online clubs has failed.

"With nearly 5 1/2 million subscribers, I don't consider it starting from scratch," he said in a phone interview. "But how do you get it to profitability faster?"

Attempting to answer his own question, Peck first called building online communities the company's "core competency." Currently, 75% of revenue comes from advertising, while 25% comes from electronic commerce. He plans to add outsourcing to that mix, as well as "other things." He declined to elaborate.

Outsourcing possibilities could include selling the club-building function to the online operations of training companies and associations, he said.

Peck said he thinks the company has a great brand reputation. He did not seek out the job, but he recognized the company's name when

Heidrick & Struggles

, the executive search firm, called him to discuss the position.