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Brier Dudley's blog

Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest.

March 6, 2007 at 6:58 AM

Mpire building on Westlake

Some cool new upgrades appeared today on Mpire’s Web shopping site.

The Seattle-based venture has simplified its search interface and increased the amount of information it returns when you use the site to search a particular item.

Mpire calls it a “universal shopping experience” because it’s intended to be a one-stop shopping site that aggregates information from most of the major online retailers, as well as sites such as eBay and Craigslist.

If you enter the name of a product, like a particular television, the site displays prices available from online retailers and auction sites, a link to the manufacturer’s site, a chart showing the price trend, coupons available online and a blend of reviews and ratings from sites such as Amazon.com and ePinions.

Mpire’s also bundling news about itself with today’s announcement. The company is simultaneously launching a new venture, called Mpire Labs, that licenses R&D to other companies. Mpire already has that kind of relationship with eBay, which uses Mpire technology on its homepage.

The company is also moving across Lake Union next month, from an Eastlake office rattled by construction noise to new digs on Westlake near WRQ — where Mpire Chief Executive Matt Hulett worked at the start of his long career in Seattle techdom. He was formerly at Expedia, Atom Films and RealNetworks.

BEA Systems veteran Dave Cotter started Mpire in December 2005 with a focus on serving eBay entrepreneurs. It’s morphed into a broader Web 2.0 shopping site and now has 14 employees and $10 million in funding from Ignition.

Hulett is keeping the expansion moderate and expects to become profitable within a few years. (He wouldn’t share the target date with me but said “I can actually see it.) Revenue comes from ads and click-through, and increasingly from technology licensing that Mpire Labs is intended to accelerate.

I think Mpire seems like a great target for one of the Internet biggies to acquire someday to boost their shopping features, but Hulett said he’s focused on growing the business.

“I want to make sure that we’re a going concern, a going and growing concern,” he said. “We’re really focused as a team on our core business but certainly we’ve had a lot of people talk to us about various things, from licensing technology to other things. As long as we’re focused on creating a differentiated experience in shopping, the opportunities will come to us.”

Comments | More in | Topics: Startups, Web

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