ISold It Inc., an eBay drop-off store, recently raised $7.25 million in venture funding from Jacaranda Partners.
Founded by former Mail Boxes Etc. executive Ken Sully, the two-year old Pasadena-based company has 170 franchise locations and another 400 eBay drop-off stores contracted to open next year.
Drop-off stores are so named because customers drop off items they want to sell using an online auction site. The store then handles the auction posting, including photographs and descriptions, and manages the bidding and shipping. The company gets a 30 percent commission, or 20 percent for items that sell for more than $100.
Operating in 35 states, iSold It generated more than $20 million in revenues for the first 10 months of 2005. About 40 employees work in the company's Pasadena headquarters, and Sully plans to expand to 55 over the next six months.
Jacaranda's investment marks a first-round of outside funding for iSold It, which Sully initially bankrolled through private investments from friends and family. Sully said he plans to invest in technology and launch a $4 million ad campaign next year.
EBay drop-off stores got a boost this fall from the movie "The 40 Year-Old Virgin," where one of the main characters operated an eBay drop-off site in Los Angeles. The company teamed up with Universal Pictures for a promotion this month, offering an iSold It coupon tucked inside each new copy of the DVD.
The Recording Industry Association of America filed another 751 lawsuits against college students suspected of illegally distributing copyrighted music.
The students are from the University of Southern California, Drexel University in Philadelphia and Harvard University in Boston. An RIAA spokeswoman declined to specify how many students at each university were implicated. The targets in this round of suits were users of LimeWire and Kazaa, popular peer-to-peer file-sharing networks.
The RIAA filed civil suits, which carry a minimum penalty of $750 per illegally shared song. That means penalties could run into the thousands of dollars for each user, although up until now many of the RIAA's suits have been settled out of court.
Some peer-to-peer file-sharing networks have not survived the onslaught. Grokster closed in November as part of a settlement with the RIAA, while StreamCast Inc.'s Morpheus network continues to exist as a file-sharing service, though it has added an option to purchase songs.
Irvine-based Blizzard Entertainment Inc.'s "World of Warcraft" video game has reached 5 million subscribers more than any other such game, according to the company, a division of Vivendi Universal Games.
"World of Warcraft" is a fantasy game played online, where players immerse themselves in an elaborate fictional universe, taking on the persona of a character or several to interact with thousands of players all over the world. Such Web-based collaborative games are known as "massively multiplayer online role-playing games" because they can support a seemingly endless number of players.
The initial fee to join the game is $49.99, which purchases the game software and one free month of play. To continue playing, users must pay the $14.95 monthly subscription fee. The game launched in North America in November, 2004, and Blizzard developers keep updating and adding new levels.
*Staff reporter Hilary Potkewitz can be reached at (323) 549-5225 ext. 226, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org .
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