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Dealtime Relaunches as Shopping.com

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Shopping search and product review site Dealtime officially changed its name today to Shopping.com, marking another milestone in the fascinating journey of a storied domain name.

"Our transformation into Shopping.com reflects the complete integration of DealTime and Epinions," said Daniel Ciporin, Chairman and CEO of Shopping.com. Dealtime acquired the consumer product review site Epinions in May 2003.

While both Dealtime and Epinions will continue to run as standalone sites, Shopping.com will now be the flagship property for the company.

The new site focuses squarely on providing powerful product comparison tools for online shoppers. Search results can be sorted by price or product rating, and individual products have links to both a description and product reviews.

Bucking industry trends, Shopping.com is deliberately highlighting the ".com" in its name.

The Shopping.com domain name has a long and interesting history. The property was originally created by former navy seal and serial retail entrepreneur Robert J. McNulty in 1996. Incubator Idealab invested seed money of $250,000 in Shopping.com (Idealab also spawned GoTo.com, known today as Overture), and the company rode the dot-com boom and went public in November 1997, raising about $10 million in the process.

Despite SEC charges of stock price manipulation, the company was purchased in March 1999 by then AltaVista parent Compaq for about $220 million in cash. AltaVista had high hopes for its new property. Rod Schrock, then Compaq Senior Vice President and Group General Manager, Consumer Products, said of the purchase: "The Internet is fast becoming a transaction medium in addition to a content medium. Today, AltaVista becomes the first site to fully combine these two capabilities into one synergistic user experience. Our intent is to make AltaVista the leading guide for both information and e-commerce on the Internet."

The intent didn't last long. In October 2001, AltaVista said it was outsourcing its shopping search functions to Dealtime, saying online shopping was no longer a core strategy. As part of the deal, AltaVista transferred ownership of the shopping.com domain name to Dealtime.

Dealtime has operated the Shopping.com site since then as a stripped down site used for testing and to see how well it would draw organic traffic. Until today's relaunch, it accounted for a small but significant amount of the company's traffic.

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