That Old IPO Feeling

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NEW YORK: Remember those heady IPO days of summer, when all a money-losing startup needed to make millions on Wall Street was the word "web" or "com" in its name? Well, they're back. Witness EarthWeb: Priced to move at $14, the stock hit $59 on furious volume before settling in just under $50 at day's end -- just like the old days. After a barren fall season, says FORTUNE senior writer Andrew Serwer, the long-shot IPO market is back in business.

"Like everything else on Wall Street, the IPO market was hit very hard in September and October, and it basically died for upstarts," says Serwer. But as the NASDAQ comes back, companies such as EarthWeb, which provides online services to professional computer technicians and lost $5.3 million in the last nine months alone, are suddenly casting a Yahoo-size shadow. "It's an Internet company," reminds Serwer. "That's an instant advantage." Somewhere, P. T. Barnum is smiling.