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

May 9, 2007 at 10:08 AM

Mpire’s platform play

Mpire

An Mpire widget showing price trends for baseball trading cards.

Mpire today announced that it’s providing widgets to bloggers and others who want to add the dynamic shopping information gadgets to their Web sites.

The two-year-old Seattle company is offering more than 75 widgets that use its data and online shopping technology to display information such as price trends for a list of products.

A gadget Web site could add an Mpire widget to display price trends for the top 10 LCD televisions, for instance. The widgets also have click-through capabilities, so you can click on one of the listed products and be taken to Amazon.com or eBay to make the purchase.

Mpire is targeting sites affiliated with eBay or Amazon and offering to let them keep 100 percent of the click-through revenue generated from widgets on their sites.

There are many providers of widgets, including some that offer plug-in commerce features to Web sites.

For Mpire, the widgets are part of a strategy to build a distributed shopping network, in addition to its consumer-oriented comparison shopping Web site.

The company is also using the site’s technology as the basis for a platform business, selling technology to companies such as eBay that are integrating Mpire components into their sites.

“The big thing we want to do is make sure we’re building a broad platform, to make sure we’re getting revenue in early, that we can use for our own consumer business early, and really become an important platform for shopping,” said Chief Marketing Office Dave Cotter.

As part of its platform play, Mpire plans to expand the widget program by developing custom “private label” widgets.

Chief Executive Matt Hulett is familiar with this approach from his time at Expedia, which uses its platform to power other companies’ travel sites as well as its own.

Hulett believes Mpire can do all of this without bulking up; he expects headcount will stay at 12 through the year.

“I’ve gotten new religion on the word scrappy,” he said. “I found as soon as you feel tempted to hire a dev[elopment] manager, a middle manager between the executive that runs something, sales or dev, and the person doing the work, you lose focus for at least six months.”

In other words, “we just find we get a lot more done keeping it small.”

Comments | More in | Topics: Startups

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