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The death knell rang for some 537 dot-com companies during 2001, according to data released by San Francisco, Calif.-based Webmergers.com. Of those, some went out of business, while others sought bankruptcy protection. That’s more than double the 225 Internet companies that perished in 2000. Webmergers estimates that there are still 7,000 to 10,000 Internet companies still in business. As expected, California suffered the most damage. Since January 2000, nearly a third of the dot-dead were based in the Golden (sic) State. Webmergers also reported that only 21 Internet businesses failed in each of the past two months, indicating the worst may be over. These statistics come on the heels of news that Internet retail sites had their best holiday season sales ever. That said, Internet sales still only accounted for 5 percent of overall retail sales.