A couple of months ago Microsoft did an interesting move. They acquired Jellyfish.com – the Internet’s first buying [search] engine, as they call themselves. Simply put: online discount shopping website that shares their fees earned from the merchants when you buy from them through cash back program.
Typical for how the major companies buy the price of the acquisition was not disclosed nor were more business details given. Under the terms of the deal, Jellyfish.com will maintain its standalone identity and its 26 employees will remain in Wisconsin.
Jellyfish.com had raised about $6 million in funding from investors that included company executives and Kegonsa Capital Partners, based in Fitchburg, Wisconsin and Clyde Street in October 2006.
Jellyfish.com was co-founded by Chief Executive Brian Wiegand and President Mark McGuire, who previously collaborated on NameProtect, a vertical search engine that provides trademark research. Venture-backed NameProtect was acquired by Corporation Services Company in April 2007.
What is Jellyfish.com anyway?
Jellyfish is a new kind of search engine. They call it the Internet’s first buying engine. Search engines are great for finding information, but they think you also need a search engine that is perfect for when you want to buy something online.
They try to make it simple for you to find the right product from a trusted merchant. But they also do something really different too: sharing their revenue with you. The guys there think of themselves as a Robin-Hood-like search engine that takes a percentage of the revenue you generate through your buying activity and redistributes it to you.
You use Jellyfish.com just like you would any other shopping search engine to find the right product at the best price. But when you actually buy something from a store in our engine, we share at least half of what we earn by connecting you to that store. All you need to do is sign up for an account to earn cash back. There are no fees or hidden charges.
This is the Jellyfish.com’s cash back promise: to share at least half of every $1 they earn when you shop and buy products using Jellyfish.com, as of course not all merchants within their data base are allowing them to share with shoppers, but this is clearly indicated.
At Jellyfish you will never get hidden fees, secret agendas, or annoying advertising. You will get an easy to use, transparent service that puts you in control.
Like eBay in Reverse
In reality, Jellyfish.com is one big marketplace of stores competing for your attention. But instead of annoying you with advertising, we allow stores to use their advertising dollars to lower your end price. If you like pretty pictures, you can see a picture of how this works here. And no we aren’t eBay, but we think our patent-pending marketplace is like eBay in reverse. Instead of bidding for deals, all you have to do is search to uncover the stores that have already bid the most to create the best deal for you.
How can they do this? Or better yet, why they are giving away $?
They just think that advertising stinks. Instead of wasting lots of money interrupting and annoying you, they have invented a new marketplace where stores make their advertising $’s work directly for your benefit and on your terms. Current advertising gives too much value to search engines at the expense of you and the stores that pay to advertise. Instead of the search engine keeping all of the advertising, we set up a system that rewards us, you, and the advertiser fairly when you find the right product to buy online.
What they really hope to do is show you the value of your attention online. And they couldn’t think of a better way than paying you cold hard cash. Technology has given you incredible control of what you pay attention to. You may not know it yet, but you are now in control. Companies in this new world will have to provide you with a maximum return on the value of your attention or they will die. And the value of your attention at Jellyfish is measured in extra dollars in your cash back account.
At Jellyfish, they want to pioneer a new form of search advertising that they call Value Per Action. Instead of charging fees when you click, they charge their advertisers only when you actually buy, and they share at least half of this fee back to you as cash back. In other words, they connect you directly to the value of the advertising. Instead of measuring how much money they make when you click, they measure how much value the advertiser is willing to pay YOU for your sale. With VPA, the advertising value of your attention becomes transparent (you can see it in the form of cash back) and changes from annoying advertising into something that actually lowers your end price.
Jellyfish.com’s platform is a sort of reverse auction where buyers bid on reducing prices, betting on when to place an order without knowing quantity at the given price.
This type of auction is a dutch auction, first used to sell Dutch tulips.
The Microsoft Live Search team said they “think the technology has some interesting potential applications as we continue to invest heavily in shopping and commerce as a key component of Live Search.”
Another potential reason could be Google, again.
Google understands the game of pay per click is about to change and is moving. Microsoft pays attention to is and they’re locking up intellectual property in this move -one that combines multiple, successful and innovative digital shopping models.
Jellyfish takes a best of breed approach and “mashes them up” to the amusement of consumers: Ebates + Woot.com and on the advertiser-side, eBay’s Shopping.com + Google’s AdWords auction environment + Commission Junction’s (VCLK) performance-based cost model (cost-per-action) with a twist of Google (auctioning off ads).
It all ads up to valuable IP that Google, in theory, cannot access.
According to Jellyfish’s zeitgeist, pay per click advertising “fails to align incentives properly between the consumer, the advertiser, and the search engine intermediary connecting them.” It’s certainly an interesting take on sponsored links, but it will most likely be a complicated stance to maintain after being acquired by one of the larger players in the pay per click game.
Similar, and older, companies include Shopping (eBay), Bizrate.com, Epinions and Overstock.com.
[ http://www.jellyfish.com/about ]
[ http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/10/02/microsoft-acquires-discount-shopping-site-jellyfishcom/ ]
[ http://www.jeffmolander.com/ ]
[ http://www.techcrunch.com/2006/10/27/cpa-shopping-search-jellyfishcom-closes-5-million-round/ ]
[ http://www.jellyfish.com/blog ]
[ http://www.jellyfish.com/howToUseJellyfish ]
[ http://www.jellyfish.com/blog/2007/10/02/microsoft-acquires-jellyfish/ ]
[ http://blog.wired.com/business/2007/10/microsoft-acqui.html ]
[ http://www.jellyfish.com/ourVision ]
[ http://www.marketingpilgrim.com/2007/10/microsoft-acquires-jellyfish-apparently-shuns-peanutbutterfish.html ]
[ http://blogs.msdn.com/livesearch/archive/2007/10/01/microsoft-acquires-jellyfish-com.aspx ]
[ http://www.redherring.com/Home/22913 ]
[ http://www.jellyfish.com/founders ]