zBox Co., a provider of "smart" delivery appliances, announced an investment by Whirlpool Corp. in zBox`s Series C financing. zBox also announced a continuation of the Cooperative Alliance Agreement the companies had entered into in August 2000. Whirlpool has acquired an equity stake in zBox through the investment and a continued alliance, and will be actively involved in working with the company. In their continued Cooperative Alliance, Whirlpool will continue to assist zBox in securing distribution of the zBox through retail distribution channels and will promote the zBox to its employees in the United States. The companies will also cooperate in developing new products, which integrate zBox and Whirlpool technology. zBox Co.`s flagship product is the zBox--an Internet-enabled, "smart" delivery appliance installed at a consumer`s residence and used for receiving, shipping, and returning packages when nobody is home. The zBox offers a secure way for consumers to receive deliveries and leave return packages for pick-up, without the possibility of theft, tampering, or damage due to exposure to weather or other elements. It is equipped with a 24-hour touch keypad and a proprietary access system that generates a new access code for each package delivery. The company completed alpha and beta trials with the U.S. Postal Service and other shippers in the San Francisco Bay Area in the third quarter of 2000. zBox charges consumers an introductory price of $5 per month, plus a $60 refundable security deposit
"Whirlpool has a clear understanding of the market potential for smart, Internet-enabled appliances," said Tina Shah, CEO, zBox. "Whirlpool products--like their refrigerators, dishwashers, washing machines and dryers, and many others--can be found in most homes in America, and we anticipate having a zBox delivery appliance in almost every neighborhood in America within a few years."