April 18, 2000 11:55 AM PDT

Amazon, WineShopper.com toast new deal

Amazon.com and WineShopper.com clinked glasses this morning after announcing a partnership.

Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos said his company invested $30 million last year in WineShopper, which officially unveiled its Web site this morning.

The $30 million investment, which is a 45 percent stake in the company, is part of an overall $46 million in first- and second-round funding for WineShopper. The company also received $14 million from its backer, blue chip venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers, which funded Amazon as well.

While many online wine providers are battling Prohibition-era laws banning direct shipment of alcohol, WineShopper sees them as a competitive advantage.

"We're not betting on trying to change regulation," said WineShopper founder and chief executive Peter Sisson. "We will evolve as those laws evolve."

News of the WineShopper investment comes after Amazon's announcement yesterday that it has opened the first store on its site that will be operated by a permanent third-party retailer. One of Amazon's first partners, Drugstore.com will handle all orders and fulfillment for the new health and beauty store.

CNET TV: Newsmakers - Sisson
CNET TV: Newsmakers - Sisson

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There are no plans to include a WineShopper tab on Amazon, Bezos said.

Amazon has been on a buying spree this year. Since January, the e-commerce giant has announced equity investments in Greenlight.com, Kozmo.com, Greg Manning Auctions, Audible.com and Living.com. Amazon also boosted its stake in Drugstore.com.

Sources told CNET News.com that Amazon waited to make the announcement until WineShopper was ready. WineShopper had expected to launch its Web site last year.

WineShopper works with the existing alcohol distribution infrastructure, coordinating with wineries, wholesalers and retailers. The San Francisco-based company ships only to customers in California.


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