Dooyoo.de, a German online shopping guide, has been sold by its venture capital backers to LeGuide.com, a French rival.
Dooyoo provides consumer reports for online shopping with websites in Germany, United Kingdom, Spain and Italy. It features test reviews of around 1.5 million registered products as well as allowing users to compare prices from various retailers.
The company raised its first VC investment in 1999 from Syntek Capital, a German VC specializing in media and technology. Fellow VC Earlybird spotted the company’s potential in 1999, and backed it in a financing round alongside 3i Deutschland in December the same year. A second round in May 2000 added CNET, the US media company which runs a technology product review website. A third funding round was held in May 2001, adding Duke Forest, a Dutch firm, to the mix.
Dr. Hendrik Brandis, managing partner at Earlybird and the investors´ representative on the board of dooyoo.de, said: “We are satisfied to see that dooyoo.de was able to build one of the leading pan-European content-based e- commerce portals. This transaction reflects Earlybird´s approach of identifying and developing German and European technology companies and adding value to their international growth. We are very pleased to sign with LeGuide.com, a leading European shopping guide and a perfect partner to develop the dooyoo success story.”
European venture capital firms have a successful track record of backing price comparison websites such as dooyoo. The most high-profile was the sale of Kelkoo in March 2004 to Yahoo! for €475m. Founded in 1999, Kelkoo was funded by investors such as Banexi Venture Partners, Sgam (Societe Generale) and Innovacom from France, Netjuice and BBVA from Spain and Kistefos of Norway.
Despite the changes to the online retail markets since Kelkoo’s sale, it is still proving to be a popular area of investment. Last year, market research company Forrester Research found that year-on-year sales in the European online retail sector grew by 58%, with the UK home to Europe’s largest online shopping community, which numbers 27 million, spending over €700m over the Christmas 2007 period.
Thomson Reuters data puts the number of price comparison and user-generated review websites in Europe that have been or are backed by VCs at 80. Investments in this area over the past 12 months include Looneo, a French social shopping community.