Tech Coast Review
The startup and tech news weblog for Southern California
Showing posts with label Los Angeles. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Los Angeles. Show all posts

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Los Angeles based, Interent Brands (who we covered last when they went public) today bought a bunch more companies:

A quick browse of these sites shows that the all have strong niche traffic, though none are doing anything particularly interesting. This seems to continue to follow IBs strategy (or lack there of), of buying community driven sites with little technological innovation. While having a slick web 2.0 feel is not a prerequisite, I still wonder if IB is buying assets that ultimately are going to lose their community to cooler places. Maybe the intention is supposed to be that IB will bring the funding in, so these new acquisitions have some financial flexibility to grow, but frankly a look at IBs portfolio, just doesn't show that happening.


Monday, March 31, 2008

Yes, I know I've been covering a lot of conferences and events lately and haven't had a chance to do any in-depth startup profiles recently. But I've got to say a lot of the events we've had lately have been fairly top notch, and remind me more of the scene up in Silicon Valley, then the typical scene down here in Socal. CommunityNext I thought was pretty good, particulary the Robert Scoble and Pete Cashmore conversation. Then the MashMeet after party with Pete and crew was one of the best LA mixers we've had to date. This is all further proof, of how hot the southern california scene is; clearly starting to organize in a meaninful way, now that we are largely recognized as being the largest area for venture capital in the country, second only to silicon valley.

Anyways, in the next couple of days, I'll be catching up and be back to digging into a bunch of companies in the socal 2.0 scene, but for now heres a list of a couple more local companies that I ran into this weekend that are worthy of some mention:

Medmania: a new media company with a network of vertical media web properties.

Girlgamer: an online community and zine for girl gamers.

Mego: digital expression by way of an interative portable profile (basically cool avatars).

Streamy: social news aggegator with a great interface.


Friday, March 28, 2008

I attended Dealmaker LA event last night and would like to say that it was a very good event. There were tons of startups, VCs, angels, attorneys, bloggers, high profile tech gurus (Pete Cashmore of Mashable), and advisers in attendance, which is no surprise seeing as the event was hosted in Santa Monica's Clear Stone Venture Partners.

The premise behind the event was a small and select group of startups were able to run their pitches by 10 different VC's in a "speed dating" session where each session lasted 5 minutes. After that it was a typical tech schmoozing party that was open to the public where everyone exchanged business cards and talked...and talked.

I will be reviewing some of the following companies in the weeks to come but here is a short list of some of the presenters I found to be interesting:

Black Closet: A fashion site that lets you see what designer clothes looked like matched together on a model, there business model was the most intriguing part of their business.

Call Fire: A VOIP company that has already surpassed $1 million in revenue.

: A travel startup with an intriguing value add proposition.

HeavyBag Media: A Marketing firm whose goal is to build community around a company or product.

Overall I had a great time here and thought this event was a notch above many of the other events that have been going on in LA this week. For now I am going to take a break until the next big LA tech event. Which incidentally starts in 15 minutes.


Thursday, March 13, 2008

Los Angeles Based Myspace is finally trying to catch back up on the innovation curve by releasing their apps platform today. These apps, much like the Facebook, apps, allow social widgets on your myspace profile. And while Facebook has beaten Myspace by almost a year with this functionality, there are some things to applaud Myspace over. Most of important of which is that they are the first container to go live with the much touted OpenSocial specs.

There are a number of apps that are live today (well over a hundred with more being added every moment). Here are a list of some of the cooler ones I played with:

    Social Music Playlist that help you discover new music and broadcast it to your friends on your profile.
  • Flixter Movies
    Helps you discover movies by showing you what your friends thought.
  • Where I've Traveled
    Create an interactive world map, to show off all of the cities, states, and countries you've traveled to.
    (Incidentally this app is made by San Diego based, a travel 2.0 company we'll probably review in the next couple of weeks).
  • Twitter Sync
    Sync your myspace mood status or other updates with twitter.
Overall, while I'm usually a Myspace hater, I'm actually impressed with how they came out of the gates here. While theres been pleanty of opensocial hype, myspace didn't send out big press releases about launching soon like some other containers, they just built the development community, got the apps working with opensocial and then just launched. Thats the way to do it. And at least for the moment, the apps not only work pretty well, they seem free of the facebook spam. Now thats a change, Myspace being solid, and better at spam then Facebook. We'll see how long this lasts.




Thursday, February 21, 2008

The hype and popularity of sports is something I may never understand but that being said I hear coworkers, friends, strangers, family, and the guy who sits next to me at the bar drone on and on about their favorite sports team. Moreover it seems that everyone of them can give me a detailed analysis why Shaq going to the Suns is a good/bad trade, comments on Joe Torrey's weight, and a strong opinion with reasons why Rodger Clemens should/should not be let into the hall of fame. So needless to say I realize this market is huge and there is a huge potential for growth with anything that allows sports nuts personalize, customize, and shout out their opinions to the world.

Jacked is taking a stab at this by making customizable widget pages so you can keep your eye on all of the sports games going on. The widgets vary from play by play to you tube videos of the teams playing. They are VC funded with at least $6.5 Million and are based in Santa Monica, CA.

The Good: There web site is about a slick as it gets and even better than that the whole site is very easy to use, navigate, and customize. Also to their credit they have a ton of money and make it apparent that they have more sports related offerings (besides the widget platform) on the way. Most importantly the widgets they offer are rich in information and gave me more than I ever wanted to know about the games I was widgeting in on.

The Bad: I understand that this is supposed to be something you look at in addition to watching TV but why does it have to be that way? I would find Jacked much more useful if they had a live stream of the game(s) you are receiving information on. My idea here is that when I am watching a game on TV I really do not want to be checking my computer for other information, however if I am on my computer watching sports (ie no TV) I would gladly watch the game on my computer surrounded with the loads of data that all of these widgets can give me. Bottom line is that I want to see the actually game live broadcast along with the widgets!

Also there should be some sort of communication with other fans that getting the same information so there is a meaningful interaction going on. Let everyone share their so called sports knowledge and see what unfolds. This seems natural to me, most people have strong opinions about every aspect of sports so let them let loose, I could see a very dedicated (and violent) community developing from connecting sports users.

Overall: There is certainly room for some money to be made in this arena and might just be the one to do it, but until they add more user interaction and live streaming videos I do not see their idea gaining significant traction.


Wednesday, February 13, 2008

So everyone seems to have recognized how hot funding green tech companies were in the venture capital space last year (and it looks to be continuing this year).  So how does that trickle down in to the consumer facing web 2.0 space?  Well what you get is, a Santa Monica based, aggregator site of all things environmentally friendly. hasn't been out long, but it's likely to become a leader in the emerging sector of an online green marketplace.  The audiences of tech savvy and green friendly are a very big overlapping demographic, so the business definitely makes sense, and Evo being one of the first in the segment, will probably  do well.  From just spending a bit of time with Evo I was pretty happy with the experience.  The site is laid out well (in of course predictable green color schemes) and their general technology platform seems pretty solid.  They programmatically scrape partner sites and assess a green rating on potential products based on environmental friendliness.  If the product makes the cut, it gets on their site, along with the evo score and the relevant details.  Pressuming Evo gets some traction they have a pretty good business model as well, in that they charges their partners a healthy sized referral fee based on the retail price of the product.  
Overall as someone who is trying to do my part in purchasing more eco friendly products, Evo's niche hits a personal itch for me, and I'm guessing I'm not the only one.



Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Last week Santa Monica based announced that the received an undisclosed investment from General Catalyst Partners.  The site is basically an aggregation service for "how-to" type videos.  Apparently self-help 2.0 sites are all the rage right now, as TechCrunch just covered yesterday First30Days (not socal based) which similarly focuses on positive self help articles during "the first 30 days of a major life change".  And while the two companies don't exactly overlap, being funded at the same time, does imply that the venture community is recognizing the value in sites that focus on the self help niche.

So how is  It's actually pretty cool, and they definitely index a lot of content.  I ran across a few bugs while using the site, but nothing show stopping, and overall I was impressed with how thorough the indexing/aggregation of their content was.  
So far in the recent months since the site has launched, Wonderhowto hasn't garnered much traffic yet, but the NY Times recently did a profile of
 them (and their excentric founder), so maybe they'll pickup steam.  On the otherhand picking up steam maybe harder for this type of business, because although clearly their is a huge market for self-help related stuff (just browse a bookstore to see how much we Americans gobble the stuff up), the videos and Wonderhowto itself is not nearly as viral as other video sites.  Because lets face it, as lame as some stupid funny stunt video on Youtube is, people love to forward them around and thus they get a lot of play.  Companies like do really well with that.  But Wonderhowto doesn't have that growth advantage, I mean, who forwards how-to videos? 

 Of course the founder of Wonderhowto is known for his antics, so maybe we'll see some unuasual marketting strategies from his team to gain the viral traffic that they want.  And because of that, I'd be surprised to see Wonderhowto not pickup some decent traction.  Though I do have to say, guys couldn't you have picked a shorter name?



Wednesday, February 6, 2008

We are not a big fan of Los Angeles based social network king, Myspace.  Sure they helped take the social network world to the mainstream and are now the incumbent player in the space, but in the fast paced tech world, they are (at least from an innovation perspective) constantly being surpassed by upstarts as well as their key competitor: Facebook. But yesterday, Myspace finally made some huge strides to regain some confidence, by releasing their developer API.  

While the results of the Myspace development platform to consumers won't be available until the first of March, developers can now get a head start building widgets and apps for the social network.  This of course is great news for both consumers who will get all kinds of cool extensions to their social graph (ala facebook apps), and also great for developers who will likely be able to build a whole ecosystem of easy to make apps with a giant user base ready to get their hands on them.  

While Myspace is late to the game in terms of opening up their platform, they seem to be doing a few things better then Facebook's earlier API release.  For one thing Myspace is basically building their API over the top of Google's Open Social, meaning that developers can fairly easily port their apps between most social network platforms.  This increased interoperability is not only a show of good faith, but also means more developers are likely to contribute, which is obviously good for everyone involved.  Besides OpenSocial, the other thing that Myspace seems to have a better leg on is helping developers monetize their apps.  Facebook is basically hands off in this case, and more then a few developers have made high trafficked apps that have return very little money for their efforts.  Myspace seems to have an eye to help developers out in this area, which again is good for everyone involved. 

Overall it seems Myspace is doing many things right with this move.  It'll be interesting to see how things go with the full consumer release next month.


Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Santa Monica based shopping 2.0 site, ThisNext, recently received another 5M in a series B round from their previous investors Clearstone Venture Partners and Anthem Venture Partners (according to Techcrunch) .  This backs up their Series A round of 3.5M.  They also may raise another 2-3M in debt financing (according to socalTECH).

We have already profiled thisnext here, and the general mixed review still stands.  They've also received mixed reviews from others, so the real question is whats up with total 11 Million+ these guys could potentially be sitting on?  Apparently its for growth capital and more employees, but geez it seems like a crazy burn rate to me.  Sure they have steady traffic growth, but I'm still not convinced they are doing anything so revolutionary to justify the valuation.  Much like mahalo, I think these guys are probably just doing well making the funding rounds because of their connection with Jason Calacanis.  Sometimes I wonder if VCs just seem to throw gobs of money at companies connected with serial entrepreneurs, and throw out the level of scrutiny they extend to unproven startups.  In many ways, this is a shame, serial entrepreneurs many times have mediocre ideas the second time around, whereas there are many good startups that struggle to get funding because of their inherent unproven nature.  And while understand the value of mitigating risk, the current trend of extending strong funding to serial entrepreneurs because of their track record, not their idea, maybe tipping the risk balance the wrong way. 


Tuesday, January 29, 2008

eCost is an El Segundo based whole seller of new, refurbished, and discontinued merchandise. They are a publicly traded company (Nasdaq: PFSW), and have been around since the early 2000's, this review has come in the wake of my holiday season and not being sure where to get the best deal on all sorts of electronics. So here is a brief overview:

You get on the site and there a too much going on from blazing fires in the corner to 10 large ads trying to sell me on the newest gizmos. In reality this is not all bad, I did come here looking to purchase stuff so I was ready for the visual barrage. Next I ran a few searches and noticed that they seem to carry just about every electronic gadget on the market and best of all their prices were usually cheaper than the vast majority of the stores on Google Shopping (I still miss the catchy name of Froogle).

Upon checkout you come to realize you must have an account, this annoys me but I do realize the utility in storing user information. Right before attempting to complete the transaction I get an offer for "Platinum Premium" membership where they assure me that I will get better deals for only $39.95/year! If this doesn't irritate me enough it says that if I am upgrading from their old Platinum membership I only have to pay $8.95 to become a Platinum Premium member. This leaves me wondering how excited will eCost be when a new element more valuable than Platinum is invented so they can charge even more for "member benefits." And how long will it take eCost to change form "New Element Membership" to "New Element Premium Membership?"

I am never a fan of buying something (ie membership) before buying something (ie digital camera). Overall I could have see eCost being a solid site and a major competitor for the new meta-search technology of sites like Google Shopping but with memberships alienating their users I have doubt eCost will ever have a major impact on how we buy our electronics...

I wonder what is selling today?


Monday, January 28, 2008

Beverly Hills based, is a video sharing social site that targets 18-30 male demographic. They basically focus on funny, crazy, stupid guy humor. As a hypertargeted Youtube clone, they have been doing well for themselves, steadily climbing to traffic upwards of 18 million uniques per month. Today they announced an ad network that extends their strong inventory reach to smaller web publishers.

While I'm not a big fan of Break, because they don't do anything fundamentally innovative (other than taking social video to an obvious niche), they are executing rather well. A year and half ago, they announced that they were going to pay publishers a semi flat rate for uploaded videos that make it to the front page. This has worked well for them because it gives an incentive for common bread and butter users who upload good (though often fake) videos to the site but aren't necessarily people who are trying to make full-time money off of it (ala Revver). They also have extended many partnerships with traditional tv publishers, clearly extending their reach further.

Now that has a good base, its incredibly smart move to sell/partner their ad inventory to smaller publishers. They have a strong sales and distribution channel that some stupid guy humor website would probably benefit well from compared to just throwing something like Adsense up. According to Techcrunch, they have 15 dedicated sales reps and have decent rates falling between $10 - $30 CPMs. So if you are small-medium sized website that sits in the mens or humor category that might pair well, partnering with Break is likely a much better deal then you'd do on your own.

As someone who falls into Breaks exact demographic and yet have very little interest in their site, I would have likely been not so kind in profiling them during their early stages. However Break continues to grow and execute well, and at the end of the day, that's what matters.


Tuesday, January 22, 2008

I just ran across a video based social network company called stickam thats based out of LA.  What I found particularly amusing was the contraversy it caused a few months ago.  Stickam launched in 2006 as basicaly another myspace except it has live web cam functionality.   The streaming video is actually pretty cool, and lends itself to the myspace crowd quite well.  In fact particularly, at launch for the high school kids that weren't leaving Myspace for Facebook, there was a decent chunk that were leaving for Stickam.

Now here lies the problem, Stickam is owned by a parent company that also owns a few major porn sites.  Of course if you stop and think about it, it sort of make sense, who better to scale web cams to large social networking audiences, but porn site experts?  Clearly the issue here is the morality conflict that minors are likely the target demographic of Stickam, and obviously you want minors no where near the porn industry.  Though the truth is, besides a sort of handsoff relationship with the owner, its really hard to tell whether or not there is any real intermingling.  The New York Times article that originally broke the story, is mostly based off a disgruntled ex employee.  Obvisiously there was a bit of sensationalism, and its a hard call to know how big of an issue this really was.

In the few months since the NY Times article broke, Stickam's traffic has remained flat.  Did the article hamper the growth, or has the in crowd moved on to something else?  Is Stickam's chances of success done for?  Who knows, but I actually found watching people transfixed to the computer, while they were playing on stickam kind of interesting.  But then again, I'm not a minor, or a parent either.


Friday, January 18, 2008

Where do you go to get rid of your hot gadget gear from two years ago?  Well besides ebay.  Los Angeles based TechForward apparently is the place.  These guys, closed a Series A round from First Round Capital last year, with the semi unique idea of a buy-back/recycling site focused on tech gear. 

So how does it work? Well basically you buy a device (mainly a laptop or ipod) pay a one-time fee, and you are guaranteed to be able to sell back  to them and some rate.  A sort of trade in insurance for product that experience rapid changes in technology. 

At first glance, I actually think TechForward is a good idea, but under the hood there is some problems.  They have virtually no traffic to their website, probably because people perceive that its sort of a rip off.   For example I just got a new macbook and they are saying that for 29 dollars I can get the insurance and sell it back to them guaranteed for 400 dollars a year from now.  Thats crazy, year old macbooks could easily be sold on either ebay or craigslist for twice that.   So about the only thing this appeals to is some lazy guy who wants some money, from his gadgets, but not all the money.  Now that same lazy guy still has to go through the trouble of signing up for TechForward in the first place, and frankly that doesn't seem to add up.  


Thursday, January 17, 2008

Los Angeles based is yet another social network that tries to bring Myspace's artistic base in to the "uber-cool" web 2.o world.  Uber focuses on using the social graph to make your own website.  Which to me seems like doing nothing more then rewording customized profile page to make you think your getting something special.  

The one thing that would have been cool about Uber is the ability to bring in media from other social sources (such as youtube, flickr, etc) , which I guess you could use to create the ultimate aggregated website (profile) about yourself.  Unfortunately the way to do that wasn't particularly intuitive, and thus I'm left with nothing of interest to say about Uber.  Maybe the one surprise is that Uber some how seems to be gaining credible traffic (250K last month) despite the fact that no ones heard of it.  For the life of me, I can't figure out why they'd be gaining such decent traffic in such short time, so clearly someone sees something in Uber that I don't.  


Wednesday, January 16, 2008

They say that no press, is bad press, especially in the Internet world, where links are gold.  However even then I don't think, Los Angeles based DreamHost is very happy that they are getting coverage all over the net (ref: TechCrunch, Infoworld, SocalTech DownloadSquad, etc, etc).  So what is Dreamhost?  Well basically just your everyday web hosting company.

There is nothing particularly noteworthy about Dreamhost, EXCEPT that they have lit a fire in the technosphere for overbilling ALL of their customers an entire year - adding up to a whopping  $7,500,000.00 in overcharges. 

Ok so understandable right, I mean humans make mistakes all the time, and companies certainly aren't immune (heck most startup companies are just a series of mistakes until they stumble on to something thats not a mistake).  The real problem, that is going to rake Dreamhost over the coals for the foreseeable future is the PR message they delivered.  In these days of new media, where companies try to have a hip blog that oozes their personality behind the machine, transparency becomes a double edged sword.   In Dreamhost's case their blog normally shows their funny, light-hearted nature, which appeals well to the techno geek looking for a good cheap hosting service.  Unfortunately, today when it means they screwed up with peoples money, light hearted joking is not the tone customers were wanting.  A sincere apology would have calmed a lot of the storm, but a lack of "official email notification" and instead just a blog post that references Homer Simpson, was not exactly what the doctor ordered.  Now 600 comments later (which are almost all negative), I'm sure Dreamhost's is feeling particularly sheepish.  

But to me though the crazy part wasn't even the tone that everyone is drilling them on.  Honestly I can write the tone off as another mistake, that was human error from the heat of the moment.  I'm sure they were just as surprised as everyone else to find the overbilling problem, and they probably just were overzealous in writing something quick on their blog to be as transparent as possible.  In this case though people weren't looking for transparency, but reassurance, and Dreamhost would have been better off stopping for a minute and putting a little PR face on.   

To me the crazy part is that this kind of glass transparency showed us something, that I think will be hard to recover from: lack of leadership.  Because despite the tonal problems, what to me is the core issue is how they tried to blame the problem on someone else.  The claim was that it was the "programmers" fault because the system was built too flexible.  This frankly is about as lame as an excuse gets.  And even if it wasn't, it doesnt matter whos fault it is, as the public head of a company, you take the blame - simple as that.

Ultimately if mistakes are measured by how you recover from them, DreamHost failed miserably.


Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Los Angeles based, Placely is a new website for tracking travel plans.  A sort of super light version of a social graph that attempts to help  you keep in touch with people you meet during traveling or find other ones that are on a similar itinerary.

The Good
Placely focuses on real basic stuff, trying to coordinate events and people centered around travel.  There are plenty of better travel 2.0 sites out there, and quite a few more sophisticated sites that focus just on travel social networking, but maybe Placelys simple take on things will appeal to some?

The Bad
Placely honestly is a pretty weak entry, into the travel arena to me.  While the travel industry is certainly ripe for innovation and many web 2.0 capabilities continue to translate well into travel, it also is a heavily populated field to get into.  If your going to get into travel, you better have a big vision or a hyper niche, and Placely impresses me with neither.  Just by building some itinerary planning and throwing a bit of social in the mix is really not enough to make me think this will go anywhere.  

I'll be awfully surprised to see if Placely ends up anything more than a forgotten company that attempted to throw something "social" together during this web 2.0 bubble.  In some ways the best thing I think their service would be good for is something like a Facebook app, but there is already a bunch of those developed, since building basic itinerary stuff isn't all that hard.  So what then is Placelys good for?  Your guess is as good as mine.


Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Los Angeles based Userplane, is an application service provider that specializes in web 2.0 chat and video. They were originally founded in 2001 and were purchased by AOL in 2006. Yesterday they announced at CES that they are now supporting the friendster API so Friendster widget developers can add chat support into their own apps. They also have released their own friendster app so users can have another audio and video chat option within the friendster directory.

While frankly, nobody cares much about Friendster, Userplane working to support them is probably part of a broader strategy of getting as diversified as possible with social networking support. Especially considering that OpenSocial (to which Userplane has already announced it will support) is still in a fledgling stage and may or may not become the ubiquitous social network standard that was so touted. Of course standard APIs and easy Data portability between social networks is what most every developer really wants. But until that dream is realized, Userplane is forging ahead on their own. They've done a good job on that front, considering they already do Myspace and Facebook and now they've added Friendster.


Monday, January 7, 2008

The mother of all music sharing programs, Los Angeles based Napster has announced that they will be converting the entire library of music to MP3 Format.  This is great news considering the original rebel music sharing program has become the exact opposite of its original intent by aligning its technology platform with Windows Media "Play for Sure" DRM and all that was wrong with the music industry.  

Since Napster sold out, they've become nothing more than a me-too player in music subscriptions and sales.  They've never been the best at what they do, getting highly trounced by the one two combo of the ipod and itunes.  What's worse, as a public company, we all get to see just how non profitable these guys are.  So will the news of throwing off DRM revive napsters spunk and bring back, the edgy buzz of days gone by?  Probably not.  If anything this is more a commentary that the music industry is finally shifting back to a model of not treating all their customers like criminals.  So if anybody thought, this is the return of cool Napster, and that the hollow shell of corporation that holds its name, has finally got some edge...well, just return to your ipods, nothing new here.


Thursday, January 3, 2008

Yet another entry into local search popped up last year (wow its 2008 now) without a lot of press coverage.  Santa Monica Burbank based YellowBot bills itself as "yellow pages meets".  And while the local search space is incredibly crowded (hence why we gave a relatively harsh review of mojopages), YellowBot has a fairly attractive implementation that makes me think they have a good chance.  

One of the things I really like about YellowBot is that they are self funded.  They've gone nearly a year building their product without taking on major investment capital and thats no easy task.  Besides that their implementation is really attractive, as its simple, sleek, and clean.  Also because their reviews are very 'tag centric' they are well positioned for good SEO.  According to Compete Metrics, they are closing in on a half a million visitors a month (and according to their own numbers they are doing over a million users a month), which means they are definitely gaining traction.  Of course, only a small portion seem to be contributing as they don't have many of their own reviews.  Most are aggregated from citysearch and other sources.   So, that begs the question, can Yellowbot get to the point where they can compete with Yelp and Citysearch/Insiderpages?   I'm not sure, because as we've said before, getting critical mass with user generated content is hard, but from the growth trends YellowBot is showing so far, they seem well on their way.




Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Today 10 year old (based in Santa Monica) announced that they received a $7M venture backed loan from ORIX Venture Finance. 

For those not familiar with a venture debt deal, it is sort of (in simplified terms) a cross between a bank loan and traditional venture capital round.  Anyways, one would hope that with the additional money, can now afford/find the time to update their site.  While has successfully survived the first bubble, it remains to be seen if they can get competitive in this new bubble, as user generated content sites like (seen on this graph)  are kicking old's butt.  While once was at the cutting edge as the shopping portal for cooking related things, it has long been passed up by sites that have more sticky content like recipes, reviews, etc. At this point, is most successful with its private label and partnership agreements (sporting big names like, Starbucks, Pillsbury, and Betty Crocker).  According to Venture Beat, expanding this private label is a big part of what they are getting the funding for.  Considering that they've already received over 100M in funding, and this new round is debt financed (harder to get) its likely they are profitable, and see additional business opportunity in expanding their private label services.  Of course while this may be true, it'd be nice to see them throw some money at the core brand as well, by adding more community features to bring's main site into the 21st century.


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