Our Vision: We seek to be the preferred internet gathering place for Christians worldwide to come, experience, and grow in their faith.
However, by October 20, 2000, iBelieve.com suspended operations due to lack of funding.
Dear iBelieve.com members and visitors,
Despite a tremendous launch and site traffic that ranks as the leading Christian community on the Internet, iBelieve.com has not been able to secure additional funding to continue to keep the site up, and we are forced to close our virtual doors effective immediately.
As you know, iBelieve.com has worked hard to create the leading Christian site on the Internet – a place where believers of all denominations could come, experience and grow in their faith. With 550,000 members, more than 2 million unique visitors, and 60 ministry partners, we have consistently exceeded our business and ministry objectives…except one: raising additional funding. Like many Internet companies, we were unable to raise capital given the current market conditions, and we are left without options.
Our prayer is that God has used iBelieve.com, in some way, to touch your life. We hope you have been encouraged, challenged, informed, and entertained along the way. Thank you so much for the feedback and encouragement you have provided to us over the past months.
We’d like to end our time on the Internet the same way we started… by giving glory and praise to our great and awesome God who holds all of history and the most intimate details of our lives in the palm of his hand….
Here are two great features you will recognize from ePrayer.org: Daily Devotional and Prayer Request System. …
May God bless you!!
The iBelieve.com Family
After closing its virtual doors, they shortened their notice in January 2001 to —
After that time, several iterations of activities have happened at ibelieve.com (browse its history at archive.org).
How Long Does $30 Million Last?
From a Christianity Today news brief in October 2000, “Plug Pulled on IBelieve.com“—
IBelieve.com shuts its doors after less than a year
Having burned through its initial $30 million investment from Family Christian Stores, Madison Dearborn Partners, and Andersen Consulting, Christian Web site iBelieve.com was unable to get another penny—and was forced to shut down. “We met or exceeded all of our traffic metrics, experienced revenue growth every month since launch and realized our goal of becoming the leading Christian Internet site,” said Jef Fite, president of iBelieve.com, says in the press release. “However, like many other Internet companies, we were not able to raise capital given the current market conditions, and we are left without options.” The site’s home page now has a letter explaining the shut down, but earlier today there were signs of perhaps disgruntled employees—or just bad luck.
Money Challenges in the Christian Market
What are the lessons here? Excerpt from “Is God.com Dead? Investors lost faith in iBelieve.com, Lightsource.com was extinguished, and Crosswalk is being run over. What happened to the for-profit Christian Web site boom?” (by Mark A. Kellner, Christianity Today, February 2001.)—
Dot-coms aimed at the Christian market haven’t fared much better. Heavily promoted iBelieve.com lasted less than nine months before a sudden rapture to the land of deceased startups. Another, iChristian.com, made it from November 1999 to July 2000 before being swallowed up by Massachusetts-based Christian Book Distributors, a “brick-and-mortar” mail-order bookseller that also has a successful Web site (christianbook.com). And in December, Nashville-based Gaylord Entertainment pulled the plug on Christian Web sites Musicforce.com (a cd store) and Lightsource.com (which partnered with portal site Yahoo! to provide Christian audio programs).
“We set out to create the best site for Christians and families on the Internet, not by measuring ourselves against others in our niche, but by developing a comprehensive strategy that would put us among the best sites—like a Yahoo!, AOL, or Amazon.com—on the Web,” iBelieve president Jef Fite said in a statement at the time. “Now the real test begins.”
Despite strong backing and a multimillion-dollar ad campaign, iBelieve was apparently unable to “monetize” (to use the latest Internet buzzword) its business quickly enough.
The firm not only failed to get its message across in key prime-time shows—its efforts to buy advertising on CBS during the network’s Jesus miniseries and Touched by an Angel were rebuffed—it also failed to find additional funding and pulled the plug on October 20, 2000, less than nine months after its launch. In its 268 days of existence (including Sundays), iBelieve.com hemorrhaged more than $111,000 per day.
“We met or exceeded all of our traffic metrics, experienced revenue growth every month since launch and realized our goal of becoming the leading Christian Internet site,” Fite said in a news release announcing the shutdown. “However, like many other Internet companies, we were not able to raise capital given the current market conditions, and we [were] left without options.”