whips up $13.5M for kitchen ecommerce site

Krystal Peak · December 6, 2011 · Short URL:

BIA, Azure fund the 13-year-old pioneer in online cooking product commerce

The 13-year-old cooking product website has secured another $13.5 million of growth capital financing in a combined debt and equity round Tuesday led by private investment firm BIA Digital Partners, with San Francisco-based venture capital firm Azure Capital Partners participating.

The ecommerce Marina del Ray, Calif.-based, Inc. has received multiple rounds of venture capital funding and now a few rounds of debt equity investment since its 1998 inception -- drawing its funding total close to $100 million dollars.

This latest investment will be used to further the growth of the company’s flagship site and to accelerate the build-out of the company’s “Powered By” enterprise-level ecommerce solutions, which have powered sites by Starbucks, Pillsbury and Betty Crocker.

“We have been rigorously focused on leveraging our position as the category-leader in the specialty food and kitchenware," Tracy Randall, co-founder and CEO of told VatorNews.  

What is

The site with the, lets face it, easiest to remember domain name, is one of the pioneer online kitchen product shopping sites. From Calphalon and KitchenAid to Cuisinart and Le Crueset -- it's all on there. But has also leveraged its time in the market to operate several branded websites for  some of the big names in the culinary world, including: Rachael Ray Store, Paula Deen Store and my personal Greecian guru Cat Cora (the Iron Chef that can make anything into Baklava.)

The company, which survived the dot-com bust, has focused on driving internet traffic to branded e-commerce solutions has most certainly kept the site alive and relevant through the peaks and valleys of the internet evolution. currently showcases more than 60,000 products for the kitchen -- plus the free content of recipes, menus, collections and member-submitted delicacies.   

Azure Capital has been a previous investor in over the years. Azure is a San Francisco-based venture capital firm with over $650 million under management that usually invests in early stage technology companies that are at the forefront of a transformative opportunity for growth (recent investments have been in the micro-blogging video site TwitVid and the data storage maker Coraid.) looks to be an exception to their focus on young tech innovation.

Azure Capital Partners has pursued its investments in greatly due to the company's ability "to add strategic value" and execute its plan to become a significant player in online commerce.

Mike Kwatinetz, general partner at Azure Capital, is currently on the board as well as the board at two other female-focused online pioneers: BlogHer and

Investing in the kitchen

Venture capital has recently become the no-so-secret ingredient for many cooking and food-centric technologies to launch and expand this year. Some of the notables include the $3 million raised in January for the food commentary and sharing site Foodspotting; the $2.25 million in seed funding used to launch a healthy eating-awareness and sharing app called The Eatery (which launched on iPhones in November); and the $2.3 million raised to launch home and kitchen goods web platform called Mertado TV.

Each company is leveraging off of the growing popularity of creating haute cuisine right in the comfort of your own home -- and while your at it, share some pics online for bragging rights.

It's the valuation of voyeuristic gluttony that has tech companies, venture firms and advertisers excited.

As long as people keep tuning in (and clicking) to see celeb chefs cook, peddle books and signature merchandise and teach us how to make gloat-worthy dishes, it doesn't look like VC dollars will dry up for food-friendly technology.


Image Sources -- Thefoodchannel and

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