August 13, 2007, 12:00 AM

Hearst advances mags-and-mouse strategy with acquisition of shopping site

Hearst, publisher of such magazines as Cosmopolitan, Redbook and Seventeen, sees overlap in fashion, beauty and consumer technology.

Hearst Corp., publisher of such popular magazines as Cosmopolitan, Redbook and Seventeen, has acquired social shopping site Kaboodle. The magazine and newspaper publisher, which has been expanding aggressively onto the web in the past year, says the acquisition will be especially attractive to consumers interested in fashion, beauty and consumer technology.

“Our readers will be able to find the products featured in our magazines, shop electronically with their friends and get their feedback,” says Cathleen P. Black, president of Hearst Magazines. “It’s another means for making sure our readers stay engaged in today’s saturated media landscape.”

Kaboodle enables users to share shopping tips, form groups and create wish lists. The site, which went live in February 2006, grew from 200,000 unique visitors per month last November to 2.2 million today, Manish Chandra, CEO of Kaboodle, tells Internet Retailer. It has 250,000 registered users.

There is a significant overlap in audience between Kaboodle and Hearst’s magazines, Chandra says. “80% of our audience is women, and our primary focus is on lifestyle goods: fashion, apparel, accessories, home décor, gadgets and gifts,” he says. “There’s a tremendous similarity to the Hearst audience. While they have some men’s titles, the bulk are classified as women’s service magazines.” He envisions content from the Hearst magazines appearing on the Kaboodle site, and the site providing a means for readers to provide feedback.

Chandra will remain in charge of Kaboodle and the management team will stay intact, he says. Kaboodle will operate independently as a wholly owned subsidiary of Hearst. Hearst did not disclose how much it paid for Kaboodle.

The Kaboodle acquisition is the latest in a series of moves by Hearst to expand its online presence. Earlier this year it acquired Veretech LLC, which operates an online vehicle trade-in and lead-generation site; online entertainment company UGO Networks Inc.; and dating site Hearst also has launched this year such web sites as oriented to environmentally conscious consumers and aimed at readers of such Hearst titles as Teen, CosmoGirl and Seventeen.

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