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.

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