April 27, 2001 5:40 PM PDT

eVineyard prunes assets from Wine.com

Online wine retailer eVineyard has acquired the assets of rival Wine.com, eVineyard representatives said Friday.

As part of a deal valued at between $1 million and $10 million, Portland, Ore.-based eVineyard acquired Wine.com's URLs, customer list and site content, said Brett Lauter, chief marketing officer of eVineyard. Wine.com began to redirect customers to eVineyard early this morning, he said.

"This is phenomenal for us," Lauter said. "With this acquisition, we increased our customers by over four times in one fell sweep."

Representatives for Wine.com did not return calls seeking comment.

The deal follows Wine.com's acquisition last August of Amazon.com-backed WineShopper.com. Last month, Wine.com laid off 65 percent of its work force to streamline its business.

eVineyard did not acquire any of Wine.com's liabilities in the deal, Lauter said. Although eVineyard plans to expand staff, the company did not gain any Wine.com employees, and no executives will be shifting over to eVineyard as part of the deal, he said.

eVineyard acquired Wine.com's assets from Sand Hill Capital, Lauter said. None of Wine.com's investors will gain a stake in eVineyard through the deal, he said. Despite the sale, Wine.com has not filed for bankruptcy, Lauter said.

"They still have creditors and debts and they don't have a Web site to drive revenue," he said. "I'll just leave it at that."

In contrast to the nearly $200 million in combined funding that Wine.com and WineShopper raised, eVineyard has raised about $21 million, Lauter said.

eVineyard has gained a license to sell wines in 27 states. The licenses are important because of the Byzantine nature of alcohol sales. As part of the constitutional amendment ending Prohibition, each state can set its own rules for the sale of alcohol, and some prohibit outside companies from shipping alcohol directly to consumers.

The sale of Wine.com's assets represents the latest setback for an Amazon-backed company. Earlier this week, Webvan, which bought Amazon-backed HomeGrocer.com last year, announced that it was closing service in Atlanta and Sacramento and cutting hundreds of jobs. Earlier this month Amazon-backed online convenience store Kozmo shut down.

 

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