Early Google Investors Mine For More Gold At Zazzle - InformationWeek

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Early Google Investors Mine For More Gold At Zazzle

The company offers consumers customized T-shirts and posters, and will offer postage online in conjunction with Pitney Bowes.

Two early investors in Google Inc. are investing $16 million in Zazzle, an Internet startup that offers consumers customized T-shirts, posters and postage stamps, the company said Monday.

In addition, Palo Alto, Calif.-based, Zazzle said that it had partnered with Pitney Bowes Inc., which provides postage services and systems, for the former company's stamp service.

Renowned investors John Doerr and Ram Shriram, backed by their respective venture capital firms, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Sherpalo Ventures, invested $16 million in Zazzle's first round of equity funding. Doerr and Shriram will sit on Zazzle's board of directors, positions both men also hold at Mountain View, Calif.-based, Google.

The money will be used to expand Zazzle's just-in-time manufacturing operations, improve its website and acquire more customers.

Zazzle lets consumers upload images that can be printed on T-shirts, stamps, posters and cards. In addition, customers can choose from Zazzle's library of 500,000 images, including 3,500 pictures of 130 characters from Walt Disney Co.

Zazzle's library also includes historical images from The Library of Congress, the California State Library, the Boston Public Library, the Linda Hall Library and The Hoover Institution.

VC firm KPCB, based in Menlo Park, Calif., is leading the series A round of funding. Besides Google, partner Doerr's other successes include investments in Netscape Communications and online retailer Amazon.com Inc., the Associated Press reported. He had some flops, however, such as Onsale.com, Homestore.com and Drugstore.com.

Shriram, who invested in Google earlier than Doerr, currently retains a stake in Google worth $1.3 billion, while KPCB retains a share worth $1.8 billion, according to the AP.

Through the Pitney Bowes deal, Zazzle is able to sell postage stamps that consumers can customize with their own images. Other Internet companies offer similar services, which the U.S. Postal Service hopes will help counter the decrease use of regular mail as a result of the popularity of email.

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