RealTime IT News

E-Stamp Expands Beta, Adds Investors

Online postage company E-Stamp Corp. today announced the expansion of beta testing for its E-Stamp Internet Postage service to San Francisco and other parts of Northern California.

The test expansion is based on the completion of the first phase of beta testing in the Washington DC and northern Virginia areas. Beta customers in the San Francisco Bay area join the original Washington D.C. area customers in phase two. National rollout is slated for the end of 1998.

E-Stamp Internet Postage is a program that allows users to securely purchase postage via the Internet and print stamps on envelopes, labels or onto a document using a PC and standard printer. It is approved by the U.S. Postal Service.

"Since March 31, small businesses in the metro-DC area have been participating in PC-Postage market trials being conducted by the U.S. Postal Service," said Wayne Wilkerson, Manager Metering Technology Management, US Postal Service. "E-Stamp Corporation is the first company authorized to participate in this test. Now with expansion of market trials scheduled to San Francisco-Bay Area, more customers can now benefit from the convenience and easy access to postage and provide expanded feedback to the program."

As part of the market trials, the company said it is collecting customer feedback through baseline and customer reaction surveys, as well as through frequent communication with beta customers. Additionally, E-Stamp performed usability testing and "follow me home" programs to observe customers' initial experiences with online postage in their own work environments.

E-Stamp said this real-world customer information helps E-Stamp to adjust its product and service to ensure that its solution satisfies customers' needs and simplifies the way small businesses perform mailings.

In related news, E-Stamp also announced today that Compaq Computer Corp., Microsoft Corporation, AT&T Ventures, Francotyp-Postalia AG & Co. (a prominent mailing services provider outside of North America), and Canaan Partners invested a total of $16 million in new equity in the postage firm.

As lead investor Canaan Partners will take a seat on E-Stamp's board of directors, joining Microsoft and AT&T Ventures who maintain their seats from previous investments.