Become.com closes $7.2m Second Round

May 31, 2005

From the San Jose Mercury News: “Become.com, a Mountain View search engine company that helps people shop by offering them product reviews and other information, plans to announce today that it has raised $7.2 million in a second round of funding.”

Read the full article (registration required).

Become.com is set to launch its shopping comparison engine this summer. I’m hoping to talk with Michael Yang at Become this week.

Further coverage (no registration required):
News.com
Webpronews
Red Herring
San Jose Business Journal


Upcoming Posts

May 31, 2005

Interview with Rafael Ortiz, NexTag co-founder and VP Marketing
Interview with Svetlozar Nestorov, Mobissimo co-founder and President of Technology
Interview with Michael Yang, Become Founder, President & CEO


More Travel Comparison Engine News

May 31, 2005

Here’s an interesting article from theMatureMarket.com (the perfect resource for a 29yr old like myself) comparing the market share of visits to the top travel comparison engines to the market share of visits to the top online travel engines. According to Hitwise, “the market share of visits to four of the major travel search engines has increased by 304 percent in the past six months (April 2005 versus October 2004) and their contribution of Visits to the Hitwise Travel Agencies category increased by 250 percent when comparing October 2004 to April 2005. In the same period, the market share of visits of the top 5 travel agencies (Expedia, Travelocity, Orbitz, Yahoo! Travel and CheapTickets) increased by 11.3 percent, while their contribution of visits to the Travel Agencies category decreased from 65.3 percent to 62.2 percent. “

I think the travel comparison engines have developed smart businesses which deliver exceptional value to consumers (seriously, test them out!) and that the online travel agencies will be forced to develop their own engines or purchase SideStep, Kayak, Mobissimo, or Qixo.


Kayak and About.com announce partnership

May 31, 2005

I find it odd that a company would release a story a couple days before a holiday weekend (or maybe I’m just making up an excuse why I didn’t see this sooner), but Kayak and About.com announced a multi-year agreement on May 25 (official Kayak press release). This is potentially good news for the second most popular independent travel comparison engine (behind SideStep) and could be a sign that more companies are recognizing the power of travel search engines over online travel agents like Expedia and Travelocity. However, we’ll have to wait and see how the partnership plays out. At this point, I couldn’t find Kayak on About.com’s travel pages.

I will contact Kayak this week to find out more about the deal.


Rumor – IAC Launching Shopping Comparison Engine

May 25, 2005

Anonymous sources in the internet marketing space tell me that IAC/InterActive Corp is hiring tech and biz dev people to join a project called Red Carpet – which apparently will be a new comparison shopping engine. Planned rollout is for Q4 2005. This is just a rumor right now. I contacted IAC for more information 2 days ago, and my contact is still looking into it. I will continue to investigate and tell you more as I hear additional news. If anyone out there can tell me anything about Red Carpet, please contact me (all correspondence will be kept anonymous).


Shopping.com upgraded by Deutsche Bank

May 24, 2005

Shopping.com (NASDAQ: SHOP) is up 5% intraday on a Deutsche Bank upgrade (to hold from sell). The stock is now back where it was prior to its earnings announcement on April 27, and up 20% from a low of $12.90 on April 29.

I’m trying to get my hands on the Deutsche Bank research, but the wires report that “the current multiples reflect the market’s concerns regarding traffic, growth prospects, reinvestment versus margin expansion and competition. The broker told clients that operating margin expansion may be limited in the near term as the company invests in international expansion. ” The broker went on to say that Deutsche Bank thinks brand advertising in the US might be a better investment than international expansion.


Interview with Dan Ciporin, CEO of Shopping.com

May 19, 2005

I spoke with Dan Ciporin by phone on May 9th. I met Dan quickly at the first Shopping.com merchant summit which the company hosted near its headquarters in Brisbane, CA April 20-21. As I was at the event as a merchant*, I will not report on the content of the merchant summit, but I will say that I was impressed with the quality of the Shopping.com team. Here’s what Dan had to say.

My comments are indented.

On click fraud: “Click fraud is definitely an issue with PPC search engines, and there is a lot of it out there. However, we got a jump on it years ago. At this point, we have lots of mechanisms in place to catch it, and we’ve implemented measuring tools that we think are accurate. If anything, we may over-filter.” Read the rest of this entry »


Shopping.com up 8% intraday

May 18, 2005

Shopping.com (NASDAQ: SHOP) is up 8% today on nearly double its average daily volume. The only news out of the company is a SEC filing announcing that the CTO sold 904 shares of stock, leaving his holdings at 526,457 shares.

In general, it’s been a strong day for internet stocks.

SHOP dropped after releasing earnings late last month, at which time many analysts were concerned about rising online marketing costs. Since then, however, the company launched its mortgate comparison section, presented at the Piper Jaffray 7th Annual Technology Conference (click on the link to listen to the webcast), and had an interview with TheStreet.com touting its international expansion. Other positive notes of interest include: 1) total cash per share sitting near $5 and 2) the upcoming launch of its hotel comparison section.


SideStep launches vacation package search (BETA)

May 16, 2005

Read press release.

Why is this important? Russ Lemelin, SideStep’s interim CEO: “Vacation packages offer notable savings to consumers and better margins for travel suppliers. Our new service serves both groups extremely well, and we anticipate rapid adoption among travelers and the companies that want to reach them.”

In the end, new offerings like this can help SideStep reach a wider consumer audience while satisfying the advertising needs of vacation package providers. -brian


Interview with Brian Barth, Former CEO and current Board member, SideStep

May 14, 2005

I sat down with Brian Barth at SideStep’s office in Silicon Valley just after he announced he was stepping down as CEO. Russ Lemelin, SideStep’s CFO has since become Interim CEO. Here’s what Brian had to say.

My comments are indented.

On how SideStep works “SideStep has relationships with all of the brands on its site. We will win by being a good partner. It’s a lot more work building partnerships, but all the brands [airlines, car rental companies, hotel chains] appreciate our permission-based model. We want to create value, not create spite.”

This model is in contrast to players like Yahoo’s FareChase which crawl the brands’ sites and then scrape the pricing information. Note that FareChase was sued by American Airlines in 2002 in connection with FareChase’s access to AA.com. SideStep obviously wants to prevent situations like this.

Read the rest of this entry »


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