Laughing All the Way to the Bank

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Did you hear the one about the Italian online marketing company that started out as a joke? Well, here's the punchline: That company, Buongiorno, has become an European leader in bringing direct-mail techniques to e-mail.

Although Buongiorno ( was officially launched in February 2000, its antecedents go back to 1995. That's when former Andersen consultant Mauro Del Rio began to think that e-mail, not the Internet, provided the best means of making money in the then-burgeoning New Economy. "He saw that it had a wider audience in terms of reach," says...