Shopobot launches with seed from Google, AOL

Ronny Kerr · June 16, 2011 · Short URL:

Disruptive comparison shopping site shows users the price history for consumer electronics products

Shopobot, a comparison shopping site that lets users track product prices, announced Thursday that it has secured seed funding from Google Ventures and AOL Ventures. Several other strategic investors, including early Facebook engineer Lucas Nealan and Jump Ventures, also participated. The amount of the round was undisclosed.

In tandem with the funding news, Shopobot also announced that its website is now open to the general public. And if you’re a bargain hunter, you should listen to this:

“We’re huge fans of online shopping, but we were shocked when we discovered just how often stores are changing their prices,” explained Julius Schorzman, co-founder and CEO of Shopobot. “We found that stores are becoming extremely sophisticated about testing different price points, and that most shoppers are entirely unaware.  It’s not uncommon for retailers to change their prices several times in the course of a week. We’ve tracked products whose prices fluctuated by as much as 20%.”

“People need to about this,” said the other co-founder, Dave Matthews (not to be confused with the rock band leader), in a phone conversation yesterday.

To let people know then, Shopobot is today publicly launching a tool for consumers that displays, via a beautiful interface, fluctuating prices for specific products in the consumer electronics category.

Isn’t it pretty?

As you can see, the little Shopobot robot will let you know if it’s a good idea or not to buy right now, based on the product’s price history. More advanced users can take a look at the graph provided to decide for themselves. And if you’re not quite ready to buy it, you could always click “Follow” to keep an eye on the product.

Apparently, retailers aren’t as opposed to the technology as one might think:

“Most tend to be pretty cool with it,” Matthews said. “At the end of the day, though, we’re a consumer-facing company. Some [retailers] might be upset as we grow and expand, but we’re really here to please the end-user, which is actually something that might be lacking in the consumer shopping space.”

Headquartered in San Francisco, Calif., Shopobot first made its debut to investors and much of the tech community at its AngelPad Demo Day in late March. Since then (actually, since mid-2010), the Shopobot team (just Schorzman and Matthews) have been working tirelessly leading up to today’s public launch.

The company, which says it has no plans to charge users, currently makes revenue when a user buys an item through their site. That is, when a user clicks through to a retailer from Shopobot, and makes the purchase, Shopobot gets a cut of that transaction. Comparison shopping sites often make money through this model; otherwise, they can make money for each click-through or by charging retailers to be listed.

Shopobot will use its new funding to expand the service from cameras and consumer electronics into sports equipment, appliances and more. Matthews and Schorzman also tell me that they’re still working on developing the social recommendation aspect of the site, whereby product experts in your social circle can help you make shopping decisions.

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