January 11, 2000 2:15 PM PST

Keen.com reels in funding from tech firms

Karl Jacob Online advice site Keen.com announced today that it has received some $60 million in first-round funding from investors including Integral Capital Partners, Microsoft and eBay.

Integral led the investment round and was joined by Benchmark Capital, which has incubated Keen.com since before its November launch. Inktomi, Attractor Investment Management, Amerindo Investment Advisors and Paul Allen's Vulcan Ventures also invested in the company. Keen.com chief executive Karl Jacob declined to specify the amounts.

Jacob said the investments from eBay, Microsoft and Inktomi could lead to strategic partnerships with those companies. The substance of some of those partnerships could be announced by the end of the first quarter, he said.

"Right now, it's a financial investment," Jacob said. But he added that the companies that have invested in Keen.com "see the same vision we do. They're excited about both the financial and strategic opportunities."

Keen.com pairs consumers looking for advice with experts. Although buyers request the advice over the Internet, the company's technology connects them to advisers over the phone.

Keen.com is one of a number of new firms that sells expert advice and services over the Internet. The company is competing against such firms as Xpertsite.com and CMGI @Ventures-backed Exp.com.

Buyers pay Keen.com for each phone call they make at rates starting at 5 cents per minute. But they can offset charges from the company by selling their own expertise through the service. Keen.com shares its revenues with service sellers on calls with rates higher than 5 cents a minute.

Some 8,000 members have signed up for Keen.com's service, according to Jacob, who added that the site's membership is growing rapidly.

Jacob, a former Microsoft executive, founded Keen.com late last year with Scott Faber and Sean Van der Linden, who invented the concept on which Keen.com is based. At the time, Jacob was working as an entrepreneur-in-residence at Benchmark. Benchmark provided Keen.com's initial funding and has housed the company in its Menlo Park, Calif., offices since its founding.

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I have been a customer for over 11/2 years, partially because a friend who is a pyschic moved away and offered her services on their website. The above states that rates start at 5 cents, completely untrue. They also offer a refund policy for which they do not adhere to. I had a bad experience where a women was trying to get me to send her money, I reported her to Keen twice, they never responded. I kept checking back to see if she had been removed from the site for unethical behavior. She was still offering her service, and almost all her feedback was negative. I checked back the following week and a women wrote a distressing feedback after a reading with this same person that the only way she could help her would be for her send her her rent money to be cleansed of the bad energy , then she would return it, and her problems would be over. Of course the women never returned the money, and the women was in trouble. I again complained about my bad experience with this same women seeking a refund, and AGAIN, they never responded. This site may have a few qualified individuals, but most are con artists and phonies who are looking to make an easy buck off of vulnerable people. Keen does not adhere to its own posted guarantee policy. This is a scam operation run by opportunists.
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