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Guidester Changes Name, Raises $$

Seachandise Commerce (f.k.a. Guidester), a Beverly, Mass.-based ecommerce ad platform for product manufacturers, has raised $7.5 million in Series C funding. Cloquet Capital Partners led the round, and was joined by return backers DFJ Gotham, Wheatley Partners, Milestone Venture Partners, Inflection Point Ventures and Tim Draper. 

 

PRESS RELEASE

Guidester, Inc. today announced its re-launch as Searchandise Commerce, shifting the company's focus from navigational tools to search-based merchandising services. The company has added to its executive team with key appointments from ATG and Google and secured $7.5 million in Series C funding. The round was led by new investor Cloquet Capital Partners, LLC with participation from existing investors DFJ Gotham, Wheatley Partners, Milestone Venture Partners, Inflection Point Ventures and Tim Draper. The Series C funds will be used to expand sales, marketing and general growth initiatives.

Searchandise Commerce combines best practices from paid search and in-store merchandising. For manufacturers, Searchandise Commerce provides an innovative service for leveraging cost-per-click (CPC) marketing to affect placement on search results, product showcases and product listings across SearchNetTM, the company's network of leading retailers and comparison shopping engines including PriceGrabber, Become.com and Buy.com. The service has been developed to provide manufacturers with the tools to manage reach, rank and revenue through familiar paid search tactics and like any point-of-purchase effort, participation gives manufacturers a tool to impact buyers when they are in active buying mode.

For eTailers, the Searchandise Commerce value proposition is simple: take the tried and true merchandising practices of the brick and mortar world, apply it to the Web and generate a significant line of incremental revenue. HitList, the company's core offering, offers the ability to use manufacturer-sponsored CPC bids as an additional product attribute affecting search order in product listings and search results with the goal of achieving the online impact of end-cap displays and eye-level shelf space in stores. All bids are aggregated, delivered in real-time and can be integrated with leading search and commerce solutions to enhance relevancy.

“Searchandise Commerce has the potential to change the online retail landscape,” said Burt McGillivray, president of Cloquet Capital. “Combine the company's established customer base, with its innovative technology and a new and proven executive team, and this is an exciting investment for us to lead. I have worked with John and his team in the past and they have a superior track record of successful ventures. Searchandise Commerce will be no different.”

Searchandise Commerce Bolsters Leadership Team

In December 2007, John Federman joined Searchandise Commerce as president and CEO to drive the company's growth. In addition to securing funding, Federman has been building a management team to execute against this refined corporate mission. Joining as chief operating officer is Laurence Stock. Stock is a skilled financial and operational executive who most recently served as CFO/COO of eStara, steering its successful acquisition by ATG in October 2006, alongside Federman.

Also joining the team is Nancy Liberman as vice president of marketing. Liberman brings extensive experience to this position, having served in a variety of sales, marketing, business development and management roles. Prior to this engagement, she served as senior director of marketing for eStara, and managed the brand through its 2006 acquisition by Art Technology Group.

Lastly, John Kennard has joined the company as director of business development focusing on building out the retail network. Previously a strategic partner development manager at Google, he was the business development lead in forming strategic deals with some of Google's key eCommerce and distribution partners. Kennard was also the lead business member of the cross-functional M&A team and a founding member of Google Checkout, Google's eCommerce offering. During the product launch, he was responsible for signing 12 of the 200 largest online retailers. Prior to Google, Kennard spent several years at eBay where he moved up from a sales account executive at VeriSign Payments to a sales account executive at PayPal, providing online payment processing solutions to some of the largest online retailers.

“It was time to build on the business lessons learned and the technical foundation and drive the company in a new direction,” said John Federman, president and CEO of Searchandise Commerce. “Keeping the core principles the same, we've added key expertise in the changes to our executive team. The company is poised for success and ready to transform the eCommerce and paid search world.”

About Cloquet Capital Partners, LLC

Cloquet Capital Partners is a Chicago-based private equity firm whose mission is to acquire and build a portfolio of exceptional businesses in niche markets. Cloquet invests in venture-stage communication software companies, management buyouts, growth equity investments and special situations. Formed in 2002, Cloquet seeks to enter into close operating partnerships with the managers of portfolio companies, with Cloquet's resources providing support to help them achieve their strategic objectives and growth. Cloquet invests its own private capital not that of third parties, with an investment approach based on trust, integrity and honesty.

About Searchandise Commerce

Searchandise Commerce provides the first eCommerce ad network for product manufacturers. The company offers an innovative service leveraging paid search tactics combined with in-store merchandising practices for application against eCommerce efforts. SearchNet, the company's network of retail and comparison shopping sites, offers manufacturers the opportunity to use CPC bids to heighten their position within search results and product listings across the network, and provides retailers the opportunity to merchandise, monetize and maximize their eTail efforts through HitList. At both ends of the spectrum, Searchandise Commerce's services are designed to engage prospects at the point of purchase to increase revenue and sales. For more information on the company and its services, please visit us online at http://www.searchandise.net or call 212.227.8990.