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epinions.com Raises $8M for New Shopping Guide

Startup epinions.com said it has raised $8 million in first round funding from August Capital and Benchmark Capital to build a broad-based shopping guide powered by consumer opinions.

Led by a team of Internet veterans from @Home, Netscape and Yahoo!, epinions.com is expected to launch in August. The concept is based on the power of word-of-mouth recommendations.

epinions.com will enable shoppers to collect advice and recommendations from product users everywhere. Users who write reviews will earn recognition and rewards based on the usefulness of their advice. The focus of the service will be on qualitative reviews rather than quantitative rankings, the company said.

"Everybody is an expert at something," said Chief Executive Officer Naval Ravikant. "We are building a service that recognizes and rewards user-experts, just as professional reviewers are recognized and rewarded."

To augment its user-generated content, epinions.com will provide shopping resources from across the Web.

Most buying guides focus only on well-rated products; epinions.com said its users will learn about not only what products to buy, but also what products not to buy.

The company said it has grown from five founders to over 30 employees in just over two months. Founders include Dion Lim from Quote.com, R.V. Guha from Netscape, Naval Ravikant from @Home, Mike Speiser from McKinsey & Company, and Nirav Tolia from Yahoo!.

At launch, the firm will focus its efforts on products in the following categories: autos, books, computers, consumer electronics, movies, music, outdoors, sports and travel.