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CDnow, Inc.
Fate Acquired by Bertelsmann, shut down
Founded February 1994; 24 years ago (1994-02)
Founder Jason Olim
Matthew Olim
Headquarters Ambler, Pennsylvania

CDnow, Inc. operated an online shopping website that sold compact discs and music-related products. In April 1998, during the dot-com bubble, the company was valued at over $1 billion; however, it was acquired by Bertelsmann Music Group in July 2000 for $117 million and later shut down. At its peak, it employed over 750 people and had offices in Fort Washington, Pennsylvania, New York City, London, and Los Angeles.[1]


The company was founded in February 1994 by twin brothers Jason Olim and Matthew Olim in their parents' basement in Ambler, Pennsylvania.[2]

With 5 employees, the company moved near the Penllyn train station in Lower Gwynedd Township, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania and a couple years later it moved to the Strawbridge & Clothier building in Jenkintown, Pennsylvania.[1]

In 1997, the company had revenues of $17 million and in February 1998, the company became a public company via an initial public offering.[3]

On March 17, 1999, the company acquired N2K, which operated Music Boulevard.[4][5]

In July 1999, the company announced a merger with Columbia House.[6][7] However, in March 2000, the deal was called off.[8]

On March 20, 2000, as the dot-com bubble burst, Barron's published a cover article called "Burning Up", which noted that the company was running out of cash.[9]

In June 2000, the company closed its London office to cut costs.[10]

In July 2000, Bertelsmann Music Group acquired the company for $117 million, a price that was down over 90% from the valuation of the company at its peak in April 1998. The 2 Olin brothers got a total of $17 million.[11]

In April 2001, the company cut 40 employees, 10% of its staff.[12]

In August 2001, the company shut its Japanese website and laid off 200 employees.[13]

In November 2002, began operating the CDNow website.[14] The web site was later shut down.


Further reading[edit]

The CDnow Story: Rags to Riches on the Internet by Jason Olim and Matthew Olim