Saturday, December 16, 2006

AP continues to win plaudits ....

Agent Provocateur continues to win accolades around the world. The latest is Forbes magazines article about the top shops of 2006.
Forbes sites superb personal customer service as a key differentiator for Agent Provocateur.
This article follows the recent revelation that the famous Kylie video which helped bring AP to the world's fashion stage is the fourth most watched video ever - with something like 40m viewings. If you have never seen it ....watch it now!
The Kate Moss series - currently playing episode 2 - has a way to go yet before the viewings reach 40m.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

eTails - a really good eCommerce read

Congratulations to Lysander Meath-Baker of Digivate for the interesting snippets he picks up and observations he adds from the world of eCommerce - in their eTails blog. The relentless rise of eCommerce sales and the new services being offered continues to make this an interesting space.
Digivate themselves continue to make strides as an eCommerce site builder and manager. They keep adding new accounts and their services which now include SEO,SEM and eMail campaigns - design and analysis - is powering their sales and profits.
Keep up the great work guys!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Koodos moves from stealth to Private Sale

Koodos, the Atlas backed company in the Accelerator stable has started to interact. Koodos aims to establish a platform to enable merchants to publish their overstocks and end-of-lines directly to a consumer facing eCommerce site.
The Koodos approach is to give merchants control of their selling prices so that they can optimise their yields and make prodcut available to consumers at an earlier point in their lifecycle than typically.
Drapers Record, the fashion industry's flagship wrote enthusiastically about Koodos and featured Miriam Lahage, Koodos CEO, prominently.
Miriam's background includes many years as senior merchandise director in the TJX group in the US - the world's largest retailer of 'off-price' merchandise, with sales of $14bn.
Whilst they build to critical mass, Koodos are launching 'private sales'. These are 'by invitation' sale events of limited quantities of highly desirable stuff at heavily discounted prices.
Tip: Be sure to register for these sales soon.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Spot Runner on CNBC - On The Money

Nick Grouf and Martin Sorrel talk about Spotrunner on CNBC.

If you're still not sure what Spotrunner is all about, watch this!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

New York Times invests in Daylife

Upendra Shardanand and his team has been beavering away at building the world's greatest news gathering, analysing and organising site/platform.
Due for soft launch on Monday to a controlled group of users, the product has been well worth waiting for. There really is nothing like it!

Now the New York Times has joined an interesting collection of angels (of which TAG is the largest in terms of funds invested) which include: Craig Newmark of Craig's List, Mike Arrington, Dave Winer, Mika Salmi (congrats on the MTV role!) and John Borthwick
The announcement of the NYT investment broke in paidContent yesterday.
We first wrote about Daylife in August.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Giants of Advertising and Media invest in SpotRunner

Spot Runner today announced that WPP, CBS Corporation, Interpublic Group and other institutions have made equity investments in the company.
These strategic investments come from three of the world’s largest buyers and sellers of advertising. On the ad buying side, WPP manages approximately $50 billion of clients' budgets worldwide and Interpublic Group agencies serve more than 4,000 multinational, regional and local clients around the world.

The investments by Interpublic, CBS and WPP were part of Spot Runner’s recent $40 million investment round. The round also included investments from Allen & Company, Tudor Investment Corporation, Capital Research and Management, media executive Lachlan Murdoch and financier Vivi Nevo, as well as follow-on investments from Index Ventures and Battery Ventures.

Spot Runner is an Internet-based advertising agency that makes it fast, easy and affordable for local businesses to advertise on TV. Its approach to commercial production, media planning and media buying gives local businesses access to a powerful marketing tool that was previously out of their reach. The entire process is automated online, making it cost-effective for even the smallest of businesses to use.
See what is said about SpotRunner at Mashable! , Silicon Beat, SMLXL, and Hitchhikers Guide to 650.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Mind Candy Raises $7m

Accel Partners and Index Ventures Lead Funding and Mind Candy Expands Its Product Lineup.
Mind Candy, the UK based company behind the Alternate Reality Game (ARG) Perplex City, announced today it has raised $7 million from Accel Partners and existing investors Index Ventures and NewMedia Spark. The funding comes in advance of a major expansion of new products to be announced in early 2007 including the development of its second major puzzle brand aimed at a younger demographic.

An ARG is a form of mystery or treasure hunt that blends real world events, websites, text messages, TV, print and a wide range of other media to create an immersive gaming experience.

Mind Candy's signature game, Perplex City, revolves around the search for a missing treasure with a $200,000 (100,000 Pounds) reward. The game has proved most popular with 16 to 30-year-olds and currently has tens of thousands of players from 92 different countries around the world. The players are in the final stages of piecing together the clues to the game that have been hidden across a wide variety of different media.

The second season of the game will be launching in early 2007 and there are currently a wide-range of new Perplex City products in development including books, video games and mobile content.

About Mind Candy

Mind Candy Incorporated (www.mindcandydesign.com) is the creator of Perplex City (www.perplexcity.com). The company, based in London, is Europe's leading developer of Alternate Reality Games. Mind Candy was founded in 2003 by Michael Acton Smith who previously co-founded online retailer Firebox.com in 1998. Original backers of Mind Candy include Tom Teichman, NewMedia Spark, John Hegarty, Saul Klein and Robin Klein.
More about Mind Candy ...press

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Edgeio raises $5m and launches its Chinese Website

Keith Teare and his team have been pretty busy lately. They have just concluded their Series A led by Intel Capital in which $5m was raised and they have recently launched - in beta - their Chinese version of Edgeio. This is called mulu100.com - in Chinese this means catalogue of catalogues.
Edgeio's vision is to bring together, organise and distribute the world's marketplaces by aggregating on-line listings and presenting them through a single interface.
Today it has over 3000 publishers featuring over 100 million listings from 14000 cities in 130 different countries.

Edgeio also confirmed that its patents, provisionally filed in October 2005, have now been completed as full filings. These patents cover its distributed marketplaces architecture and many of the egdeio features.

moo's latest partner .....skype

If you need a contact card (as opposed to a business card) that is a little different, less corporate, with a bit of personality, the latest Moo partner is offering some really neat designs.
For readers of this blog enter "freebie" in the promo code box for your sample pack of 10.
Moo and Skype

Another massive year predicted for eCommerce

The latest Forrester report on on-line shopping indicates no sign of this market reaching maturity. The US is predicted to grow by over 20% this year vs toal retail growth of 3%.
In Europe this growth will be even faster.
Forrester say: "In the coming five years, the number of Europeans shopping online will grow from 100 million to 174 million. Their average yearly Net retail spending will grow from around €1,000 to €1,500, as UK Net consumers outspend even their US counterparts online. Overall, this will cause European eCommerce to surge to €263 billion in 2011, with travel, clothes, groceries, and consumer electronics all above the €10 billion per year mark."
The Sunday Times ran a cover article this past weekend which featured 2 companies in our portfolio. LoveFilm group has helped to create a new category of on-line spend in Europe in the DVD rental space and Lysander Meath-Baker of Digivate had some intelligent things to say about ways in which on-line shops will need to evolve to keep customers interested. He points to the use of video and virtual reality in eCommerce as some of the emerging techniques.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Orders from 78 countries!

Is the goal to build a global business an over-ambitious one? Not in the world of the web!
Moo launched their mini-cards with Flickr on September 19th. After shipping many thousands of orders - free and paid for - to 78 countries, Moo is still small, but Global.

Stewart Butterfield, founder, CEO of Flickr writes:

FlickrBlog: "Congratulations are in order to Moo for shipping all 10,000 of the free promo card orders! That's a lot of envelopes to stuff in a very short time — I guess it was fairly predictable, but still pretty impressive that 10,000 Flickr members ordered their free ten-pack of cards in the first week (the promotion is now, sadly, over).

As for the cards themselves, I can't say it better than Cory Doctorow did on BoingBoing:

It's hard to convey just how cool-ass these cards are. They feel like a fetish object, the thick card and soft laminate finish create a great hand-feel, and they're visually stunning — playful and intensely personal.

Together with the paid 100-pack orders, that's hundreds of thousands of cards they've shipped a mere two weeks after opening their doors (we're told the cards went out to 78 countries!). They've also got a lot of happy customers, and an extremely active group going (including tons of card shots in the pool). Congratulations, Moo team!"

Sunday, October 08, 2006

We all LOVEFiLM now!

One brand across Europe.
Just over 2 months after the merger was completed, Simon Calver and his team have merged the brands and the operations.
LoveFilm is now present in the UK, Sweden, Denmark and Germany. Subscribers numbers keep rising.
Great job, Simon!

Friday, October 06, 2006

an eCommerce Category Killer

The Cotswold Company have launched (in Beta) a new Chair Superstore - called Chairs and Wares.
To aid on-line shopping of relatively high value products, the site uses zoom technology extensively and offers a vast array of options of style, fabrics, leg shapes and colour.
The company has hooked up with a Chinese factory and is dis-intermediating a number of steps in the chain to achieve fantastic prices. Essentially achieving a "from factory
to consumer" supply chain.
Cotswold have all but halted their retail expansion and are focusing on their direct channels - catalogue and Web.
Good job, guys!

Saturday, September 30, 2006

bound to be worth listening to ...

Saul will be the keynote speaker at the forthcoming Second Chance Meeting
I've never been to one but understand that they are mobbed.
Michael Smith and Judith Clegg have revived this networking event in a remarkable way. They are determined to ensure that it works for entrepreneurs and that some of the really interesting new businesses being developed get every chance of being funded and publicised.
Read what TechCrunch has to say about it and get yourself an invite.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

LOVEFiLM launched in Germany

LoveFilm has chosen the 'start-up' rather than the acquisition route for its entry into Germany - in partnership with Deutsche Post.
No doubt Deutche Post has looked with envy at the 2m+ DVDs travelling back and forth from LoveFilm via the Royal Mail in the UK and wants to see its home market really get moving.

LOVEFiLM, Europe's leading on-line DVD rental company has announced its entry into Germany with the launch of LOVEFiLM Deutschland AG.
In a short period of time LOVEFiLM International has established itself as a leader across Europe with over 450,000 subscribers and is already managing over one in five DVD rentals in the UK.
This is LOVEFiLM's first start-up in continental Europe following the acquisition of three companies in Scandinavia: Digitarian, Brafilm and Boxman. This launch is in line with LOVEFiLM's aim of expanding into new territories while growing existing market share in its established markets.
LOVEFiLM's entry into Germany also marks a strategic partnership with the Deutsche Post World Net Group, the leading global postal and logistics services company.
For this initial launch phase LOVEFiLM is to provide the website, customer and marketing expertise and project management to run fulfillment, customer service and banking, while Deutsche Post will run the operational fulfilment through its corporate infrastructure, including DHL and Postbank.
Simon Calver, chief executive of LOVEFiLM, commented: "This will be an exciting first year for LOVEFiLM Deutschland and we look forward to developing a market-leading service for our German customers offering the choice, value and convenience that has helped us grow our LOVEFiLM brand in the rest of Europe.
"We are fortunate to be partnering with Deutsche Post on this launch, as their world-class infrastructure and logistics expertise provides the perfect complement to our experience in the field of on-line DVD rental."
Michael Mews, Director of Central Key Account Management within the Postal and Telecommunication Division of Deutsche Post AG commented: "We are delighted to be working together with LOVEFiLM, Europe's leading company in this field. LOVEFiLM is an excellent, flexible and highly competent partner with a great deal of experience, especially in white label solutions."

Thursday, September 21, 2006

How to be cool (or which brands buy status)

Guardian Unlimited | The Guardian | How to be cool (or which brands buy status)

Agent Provocateur has once again been voted amongst the UK's coolest brands. see BBC News
In great company with Ducati, Alexander McQueen, B&O and the Tate as the other 4 in the top 5.
The recent Kate Moss movie episodes - distributed on line - will have done it no harm at all.
Check its Alexa rating to get a sense of the traffic hitting the AP site.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

On-line meets off-line.

MOO has joined forces with Flickr, the world’s largest online photo sharing community, to offer members a new way to share their Flickr information and photos offline.

Flickr MiniCards use MOO’s revolutionary multipack technology to produce sets of small, customised calling cards: each card featuring a different photo from the last.

MiniCards are ideal for sharing the details of your Flickr photostream, group or image locations, along with email, instant messager, and cellphone info on a high quality card featuring the photos of your choice.

To help spread the word, MOO are giving away 10,000 FREE packs of 10 cards to Flickr Pro Users. Sign into MOO with your Flickr account here to get your FREE CARDS.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Miss X is Kate Moss for AP

Agent Provocateur is a company well used to miles of column inches and PR coups. It sometimes concerns me that the brand consistently has to innovate and break new ground in order to 'move the dial'. How do you follow the Kylie movie ad? - for example.
The company has now done it again!
Following months of planning and development, the 4 part series of short films made by Mike Figgis and starring Kate Moss was launched today. The front cover of the style section of the Sunday Times and a great inside article heralded this innovation by AP and Kate.
The movies will be streamed on the AP website and the trailer is downloadable and distributable. Viral dissemination and a veritable avalanche of press coverage will inevitably follow.
Vogue.com were pretty quick of the mark!

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

ScreenSelect rebranded as Love Film

Following the merger of the 2 businesses [see 25th June post] a letter has gone to ScreenSelect subscribers announcing the change of brand to LoveFilm.
Webuser picked this up today and set out the details.
The move is part of the consolidation and integration that the company is busy implementing.
The group has an estimated 70% of the on-line rental market, about 17% of the total DVD rental market. So, rental shops still have 83%!
LoveFilm has well over 1000 movies to download for purchase or rent and is well positioned to exploit this distribution method once the library is expanded by the studios and consumers adopt the method.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Alternate Reality Games

Wrapping your head around this genre takes some doing. Especially if you are nudging 60 (years old, that is).

Mind Candy, one of LocalGlobe's investments is making waves in this space and with the help of popular mass media like CNN is helping to explain exactly (well, sort of exactly) what ARGs are about.
Mind Candy's first game originates from the alien the world of Perplex City

This piece in CNN.com should help the uninitiated.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

News of Daylife is out!

Craigslist Founder's News Ventures Named

By K.C. Jones, TechWeb Technology News

Jeff Jarvis has at least given a name to an upcoming news venture backed by Craigslist founder Craig Newmark, but developers are still keeping a tight lid on their plans.

In writing about another news site, the recently announced but yet to be launched NewAssignment.Net, Jarvis said, "Daylife will gather, analyze, organize and create a new, distributed platform for the world's news." He also said the site would provide technical and distribution help to NewAssignment, which aims to encourage "smart mobs" of regular citizens to submit ideas and report the news through a process they're calling "open source journalism."

More has been divulged about NewAssignment than Daylife, including the fact that the idea came from Chris Allbritton, a former Associated Press reporter who raised more than $14,000 from readers to report back directly from Iraq. NewAssignment will seek donations and has at least $10,000 from Newmark.

In an e-mail interview Monday, Jarvis confirmed that Daylife is the company that Newmark is backing and touted last year as one new media answer to what's missing from traditional media. Jarvis declined to give a launch date.

"I'm afraid we're not saying anything more about the company quite yet," he said.

The site is under development and not yet open to public view, except one page announcing job openings. Though Newmark has said editors will be involved in the news startup, none of the positions advertised on Daylife are for editors or news gatherers.

In May 2005, Jarvis said he will act as editor-in-chief of a news startup founded by Upendra Shardanand. It was the first public mention of the site and Jarvis said he jumped at the opportunity to get involved as soon as Shardanand shared his idea.

"I have up plans to start my own blog company," he said. "The start-up remains in stealth mode."

Investor Michael Arrington said this week that he has no idea when the site will be launched or where it is in its development. He and another investor Dave Winer said they decided to invest after seeing mockups.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Astley Clarke goes live

Becca Clarke (ex Tesco.com) has created a beautiful site which relects the stylish designer Jewellery which it offers.
Featuring 18 designers and hundreds of products Astley Clarke aims to fill a niche in the huge on-line Jewellery market. Astley Clarke.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Sequoia leads a $6m Series B round for Stardoll

Stardoll.com Closes $6m Series B Funding Led by Sequoia Capital and Adds
Prominent Entertainment Industry Lawyer to Board

STOCKHOLM, Sweden, June 27, 2006 – Stardoll.com, the online dress-up and makeover community, today announced the close of a $6 million Series B round. The round was led by US-based Sequoia Capital with previous investor Index Ventures also participating. The company also announced that Fred Davis, an expert in media and entertainment law and founder of Davis Shapiro Lewit & Hayes will join the Company’s board of directors.

The investment syndicate brings together two of the most active and successful investors in the consumer Internet area. Between them their successes include Yahoo, Google, Skype, PayPal and Betfair. “This is an exciting time for the company. We have launched many new features to delight our users and have been entering into commercial discussions to broaden the revenue base,” said Mattias Miksche, CEO of Stardoll. “It’s invaluable having backers like Sequoia Capital and Index Ventures who have so much experience in this area and will help grow our US presence.”

Stardoll.com is one of the most popular online destinations for young girls worldwide. The site features more than 330 celebrity dolls whom users can style with thousands of different clothes and accessories. Each week the site attracts more than 1.2 million unique visitors from over 200 countries.

“We were impressed with the exponential growth of Stardoll.com and sheer number of young people moving online to enjoy this pastime,” Mark Kvamme of Sequoia Capital. “Stardoll’s team has developed a close relationship with its online international community and is well-positioned to continue attracting the growing interest of a highly motivated and creative demographic.”

Besides celebrity dolls, the site has just launched the MeDoll feature, which allows users to create a personalized doll whom they can dress with merchandise from a virtual store. In addition to increasing revenues from user payments, this new feature also creates opportunities for marketing partnerships with fashion, retail and media brands.

About Stardoll.com
Stardoll.com, formerly known as Paperdoll Heaven, is an online dress-up and makeover community for girls of all ages. The Stardoll.com site features more than 330 dolls and tens of thousands of garments and accessories. The site has registered users from over 200 countries and is adding close to 10,000 new members per day. The company is headquartered in Stockholm and also has operations in Finland. For more information, please visit www.stardoll.com.

About Sequoia Capital
Since 1972, Sequoia Capital has provided startup venture capital for very smart people who want to turn ideas into companies. As the “Entrepreneurs Behind the Entrepreneurs”, Sequoia Capital's Partners have worked with innovators such as Sandy Lerner and Len Bozack of Cisco Systems, Jerry Yang and David Filo of Yahoo!, Gaurav Garg of Redback Networks, Larry Page and Sergey Brin of Google, Dan Warmenhoven of Network Appliance, Max Levchin and Peter Thiel of PayPal (eBay), T.J. Rodgers of Cypress Semiconductor, Lou Tomasetta of Vitesse Semiconductor, Steve Jobs of Apple Computer and Larry Ellison of Oracle. To learn more about Sequoia Capital visit www.sequoiacap.com.

About Index Ventures
Index Ventures is a leading European venture capital firm active in technology venture investing since 1996. The firm is dedicated to helping top entrepreneurial teams in the Information Technology and Life Science sectors build their companies into market defining global leaders. The firm has offices in Geneva, London and Jersey and focuses its investment activity primarily on Europe and Israel. Investments include Betfair (the world's largest betting exchange); Skype (the pioneering communications company, recently acquired by eBay); MySQL (the world's most popular open source database); Photoways (Europe’s largest online photo-processing service) FON (the global wifi network) and Lovefilm (Europe’s largest DVD rental business). www.indexventues.com

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Mind Candy

Mind Candy is a media and entertainment company that specialises in puzzles – and alternate reality and massively multiplayer games (MMOGs).
Its first game is Perplexcity.
Invested early 2005.

Stardoll - your paperdoll heaven

Stardoll.com is an online dress-up and makeover community for girls of all ages. It features more than 320 dolls and tens of thousands of garments and accessories. Global membership base exceeds 900,000 from more than 190 countries. The Company is headquartered in Stockholm and also has operations in Finland.
Invested September 2005

Video Island - LoveFilm

Europe’s leading on-line DVD Rental Company.
Platform for the services of Love Film and ScreenSelect (own brands), Tesco, ITV, MSN, Easy.
Revenues: £40m run rate.
Co-Founded Sept 2002

Press Releases
For more details please contact info@videoisland.com

Video Island and LOVEFiLM merge to create Europe's leading online home entertainment goup

LONDON, 6 April 2006: LOVEFiLM International Ltd and Video Island Inc, the owner of ScreenSelect.co.uk, today announce their intention to merge and create Europe's leading web-based home entertainment subscription service.

The deal, a 50-50 merger, will give the combined group more than 400,000 subscribers and a strong position in the UK market with around 17% of all DVD rental transactions; as well as strong market share in Sweden, Denmark and Norway. Both companies will be consolidating under the LOVEFiLM consumer brand.

The group will offer customers the largest DVD library in Europe, with more than 70,000 unique titles and 1.2 million DVDs and Video games, as well as a fast-growing Video-on-Demand (VoD) service. The new company will ship more than two million rental DVDs every month.

Both companies currently work with major partners including AOL, CD Wow, Channel 4, Dixons Store Group, easyGroup, Guardian Newspapers, ITV, MSN, News International, Odeon, Sainsbury, Tesco and Vue Cinemas, some of whom offer a fully white-labeled service.

In the year to December 2005, sales of the combined group were more than £25m and the group turned profitable in December 2005.

The deal will bring together a strong investor base including Arts Alliance Media (AAM), the majority shareholder in LOVEFiLM, alongside Video Island's backers Benchmark Capital, Index Ventures, Cazenove Private Equity, and European Venture Partners.

Following the merger, Arts Alliance Media will provide video on demand and electronic sell through services to LOVEFiLM International under a long term commercial arrangement.

The new executive team will be a combination of the two firms, with Simon Calver, the current CEO of Video Island becoming the group's CEO. On completion of the merger, LOVEFiLM's CEO Mark Livingstone will step down and act as consultant to the group.

The new company plans to exploit synergies on marketing, technology, distribution and operations to grow profits faster and accelerate expansion across Continental Europe. The merged group believes it will be better positioned to exploit these opportunities and be more competitive against US rivals such as Amazon, Blockbuster and potentially Netflix.

In addition, the larger customer base and stronger finances will allow it to capitalize further on new technologies and delivery methods including Video-on-Demand and the recently launched Download-to-Own service.

Simon Calver said: "For three years both companies have done an excellent job changing the way DVDs are rented in the UK and Scandinavia, by providing customers with unparalleled value, choice and convenience. Together we will be a stronger company offering better features and service. I am delighted to lead this talented team and make it a force in the European Home Entertainment market."

Mark Livingstone. "I am privileged to have led the creation of LOVEFiLM over the last 2 years. The new combined management represents a world class team and I believe the company will now become a major force to be reckoned with in the entertainment world."

LOVEFiLM and Video Island were both advised by Altium, the mid-market investment bank, during the merger. The deal is subject to shareholder approval.


Automated Ad Agency for SMEs. Thousands of TV commercials available on the web. Full media planning and booking service.
Went live January 2006. Signed major contract with Cendant Feb 06.
Invested April 2005.


Moo Cards – Personalised Cards delivered via a web interface using digital print technology. Early stage. Test Revenues only.
Invested October 2004


Instant Market Intelligence
– The Next Generation of Customer Feedback - using mobile SMS technology and other digital channels.
Early Stage. Revenues commenced January 2006. A number of famous brands are already using IMI's Text-In Service.
Invested June 2005


Koodos Ltd. – Outlet Mall on line. Specialising in overstocks and clearance products for a large portfolio of brands.
Co-Founded September 2005

Monday, June 19, 2006


Edgeio Inc - a simple and elegant twist on the listings/classified business. The service aggregates listings from RSS - based web pages and post listings on blogs. Edgeio indexes and organises them on its own site.
Invested Janauary 2006.

Tracking 30 million+ websites
Listing 437,591 items from
9,602 cities and 115 countries

Digivate Ltd

Managed eCommerce Solutions and eMarketing Services.
Revenues exceed £1m and profits £100K. Cash Generating.

Invested 2000.

The Cotswold Company

Multi-channel retailer of Household Furnishings.
Revenues : over £20m in 2006. Web Sales nearing £10m. Cash Positive 2006.
8 Stores. UK Only. Invested 2000.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Agent Provocateur

The world's leading lingerie fashion brand.

19 stores in UK, USA, Paris, Hong Kong, Dubai, Moscow, Dublin, Berlin and worldwide on the web

Agent Provocateur