Bobshop.nl sold?

bobshopIt seems that pure online player Bobshop.nl is bought by brick and mortar company Scheer & Foppen (55 offline shops). The website of Scheer & Foppen certainly does not indicate that they have taken Internet very serious. Let’s hope that with this take-over they will enter a new phase in their Internet aspirations.

Congratulations to Bob and his team!

UPDATE: the news has been confirmed by Emerce

Kelkoo sold by Yahoo!

kelkooYahoo has been rumored to be selling Paris-based comparative shopping site Kelkoo for some time now, and it appears that they have found a buyer. Yahoo acquired Kelkoo in 2004 for €475 million.

The company has been sold to a UK-based private equity firm called Jamplant Ltd (update: here is a profile of the fund) for something less than €100 million, according to sources with knowledge of the deal.

Ex-Kelkoo CEO Pierre Chappaz announced the news on his blog (in french), and a copy of the internal email announcing the acquisition is below.

The company has lost much of its momentum since the Yahoo acquisition in the face of significant competition.

Do we feel the banking crisis already?

Banking crisis (image taken from Emerce)

Banking crisis (image taken from Emerce)

A few days ago I was asked by Emerce (a magazine focused on Internet) in The Netherlands if my current company (Compare Group) can feel the effects of the banking crisis. In my opinion it is much too early to see any significant effects and most likely consumers will feel the crisis (if any) in the beginning of 2009.

If you can ready Dutch, here is a link to the article in the Emerce.

Leading dutch comparison engines go off-line

In The Netherlands a consortium of 4 leading comparison engines in their area of expertise have successfully launched a new magazine for Internet consumers, Check magazine.

Check magazine

Cover Check magazine

To boost the first issue (150.000) the magazine Check has been sent to Internet consumers by large (r)etailers, such a Dixons, Conrad and Modern/It’s. Consumers can also become a subscriber to the magazine (only EUR 9,50 for a year) or can buy the magazine in supermarkets/kiosks.

Aim of the magazine is to inform Internet consumers what to buy, where to buy and how to buy. The consortium also has no aim to make a profit on the magazine, but to increase the distribution numbers and become the leading magazine on consumer decisions. In the long run the partners hope to increase brand awareness and to increase direct traffic to their websites.

The consortium contains the following companies:

  • Vergelijk.nl (leading price and product comparison engine and part of the Compare Group)
  • Zoover.nl (leading travel opinion site in The Netherlands and Europe)
  • Independer.nl (leading comparison engine on financial products and health in The Netherlands)
  • HetBesteProduct.nl (best aggregator in the field of expert reviews)

The strength of this concept is that all these companies know exactly which products or services or hot (and which are not), they have a lot of consumer opinions (which in my book is often much better than a test conducted in a controlled environment) and they have the opinion of a lot of experts (tests of products in other magazines).

The first issue was a big success and consumers really like to magazine. Even before the magazine was launched subscribers poured in already. So, that’s very good news!

NOTE: Obviously I must admit that I am biased, as I am one of the initiators of this initiative together with HetBesteProduct…. just for the record ;-)

Microsoft betters offer of Quadrangle to buy Ciao

Microsoft has agreed to buy Greenfield Online, owner of European price comparison website ciao.com, for about $486 million to boost its Internet search and e-commerce business in Europe. Microsoft, whose $47.5 billion bid to buy Yahoo earlier this year failed after a protracted battle, said on Friday the acquisition should benefit its Live Search platform. Microsoft also bought Jellyfish some time ago, which they integrated into their Product Search. This is the second sign that Microsoft is really acting on what their were saying a year ago (read my post on that).

Microsoft’s vice president for Windows and online services, Tami Reller about Ciao:

The team at Ciao has built a passionate consumer community based on intuitive technology and extensive merchant relationships that we believe will deliver incremental benefit to the Microsoft Live Search platform.

Ciao.com offers advice on purchases, mainly of consumer electronics, and encourages users to join a network of shopping experts to share opinions. It makes its revenues from e-commerce, merchant referrals and advertising sales.

Microsoft’s offer of $17.50 per share betters an earlier proposal by media-focused U.S. buyout firm Quadrangle Group (read my former post on this) to acquire the company for $15.50 a share, and represents a slight premium to Greenfield’s closing price of $17.25 on Thursday. On August 26, Greenfield had said it had received a $17.50 per share offer but did not reveal from whom. The latest offer represents a premium of about 10 percent over Greenfield’s closing share price on August 25.

Microsoft said it had agreed to sell off Greenfield Online’s main business, which surveys consumer opinion online and sells the results to market researchers, to an unnamed financial buyer. The companies expect both deals to close during the fourth quarter of 2008. Completion of the Greenfield sale to Microsoft does not depend on Microsoft’s disposal of the online survey business, the two companies said.

Rambler Media fully acquires Price.ru

Rambler Media Ltd., operating one of Russia’s most popular internet brands, has exchanged contracts for the acquisition of the remaining 49% of Price Express LLC (price.ru), a leading Russian product comparison internet service. Rambler already held a 51% stake in Price Express, which it acquired in January 2006. The transaction is expected to be completed in July 2008 upon regulatory approval.

Price.ru is currently the second largest price comparison site in Russia and generated revenues of approximately US$3.2 million in 2007. Price.ru will continue to be operated as an independent brand, but will be increasingly integrated into Rambler’s services.

Mark Opzoomer, Chief Executive Officer of Rambler Media, commented: “The decision to increase our ownership in Price Express reflects our determination to continue to rationalize our product portfolio by either consolidating or divesting operations where we own less than 100%. This process will enable us to optimize our legal structure while focusing on the best services for our users and advertisers. Online comparison shopping and product searches have become increasingly popular in Russia and we believe that owning 100% of Price Express will create more value for our shareholders.”

Breaking news: Rebelio closes in The Netherlands

The word is out that Rebelio has officially closed down its operations in The Netherlands. Currently I do not know what this means for the other countries, but it isn’t good news. Some time ago I already posted my concerns about Rebelio; it seems that my source was right…

Read more on ‘what’s up with Rebelio‘.

Currently I am not able to reach any website anymore of Rebelio… They all provide an error.

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