Jan. 11, 2004, AOL Times (formerly The New York Times)--The e-commerce era reached its ultimate conclusion today when Beliefnet, Inc., which operates a multifaith religious website, online hairdressers, a for-profit matchmaking service, a chain of drive-through vegetarian delis, and Yale University, acquired General Motors in an all-stock transaction.

"There's a natural synergy between religious chat rooms and car sales," said Robert Nylen, the president of Beliefnet, who is best known to the public as the owner of Bermuda. "We just haven't figured out what it is yet."

Analysts for The Yahoo! Journal, formerly The Wall Street Journal, saw this as yet another example of the "new economy" overtaking the old. Two years ago, when General Motors shipped its last automobile--the company now manufactures only SUVs and self-propelled two-bedroom apartments--it had tried valiantly to become "new," by, for example, including holographic web displays on the front windshields of its products. Liability costs from accidents set back the plan, however.

"We will operate General Motors with the same ecumenical, open-minded spirit that made BeliefNet happen," Beliefnet's chairman, Steven Waldman, said at a press conference at the federal minimum-security facility in Allentown, PA., where he is serving time for stock manipulation. "For instance, many people have doubts about their cars. They sense that they need a car, that something is missing in their lives if they can't drive anywhere. Yet they have difficulty committing to any one vision of a car. They need more information. They need time to pause and reflect, to experience the car as part of the community. We will give them that. Of course, it's going to cost them."

Speaking on the Amazon News program "Nightline," President Regis Philbin praised the merger, telling Ted Koppel, "I've had many, many meetings with the Beliefnet people, and they exemplify what makes American business great. Namely, unregulated campaign donations."

MSNBCCNNAPCBS News reported that the new company will be named Beliefmotors.

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