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Ex-Tropicana boss to leave start-up Internet venture

Ellen Marram has soured on the idea of juicing up the Internet.

In August, Tropicana's former chief executive abandoned life in a big corporation to run efdex Inc., a fledgling Internet-based commodities exchange for the food and beverage industry. Thursday, she and efdex directors agreed that she will resign at the end of May.

Efdex, an acronym for Electronic Food & Drink Exchange, is a Stamford, Conn., electronic-commerce venture that planned to link industry buyers and sellers, such as hotel chains and restaurants, with producers and farmers via an e-trading system.

The departure decision is "something that has been coming on for a while" because "it was time for me to move on," Marram, 53, said.

"There was nothing about working in that (Internet) environment that I found uncomfortable," she said. "I helped move the company forward. We made good progress" in identifying customers' needs.

When she took the helm, efdex planned to roll out its services to U.S. buyers in January and then Europe soon after. The company also planned to file for an initial public offering in the first half of this year. Efdex has been fully operational in the United Kingdom since January but has yet to roll out its services in the rest of Europe or this country. Nor has it filed for an IPO.

Marram left Tropicana in October 1998, months after overseeing the sale of the Seagram Co.'s juice business to PepsiCo Inc. for $3.3-billion. At that time, she said she was eager to lead her own company. "I've started to look at other opportunities in both the old economy and the new economy," she said Thursday.

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