June 30, 2011, 12:00 AM

Money flows into e-commerce

Along with strong growth in the e-commerce industry is plenty of capital available from venture capital firms to help drive further growth. Here’s a look at capital raised by Groupon, CSN Stores and others.

As record levels of activity at last month's Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition showed, there's plenty of growth in online retailing. And there appears to be plenty of capital available to help drive additional growth.

Groupon, the fast-growing global company selling deals for local retailers, filed for an initial public offering of stock last month with hopes of raising at least $750 million. The timing of the filing likely reflects the appeal of social media-related stocks, says Greg Sterling, an analyst and founder of Sterling Market Intelligence. "There's a hunger for opportunities like this," he says.

Groupon's 2010 revenue was $713.4 million, more than 20 times its 2009 revenue of $30.5 millionÑthough it has yet to turn a profit in its first three years of operation. It posted a net loss of $102.7 million on $644.73 million in revenue in the first quarter of this year.

In other capital-raising activity, CSN Stores LLC raised $165 million from investors including Battery Ventures, Spark Capital, HarbourVest Partners and Great Hill Partners. CSN, which operates more than 200 niche retail sites, says it plans to rebrand itself as Wayfair.com, expand internationally and buy other online companies.

CafePress Inc., a web-only retailer of products that customers can personalize on its web site, says it expects to raise up to $80 million in an IPO this year. The retailer reported $127.9 million in revenue in 2010, up 24% from $103.5 million in 2009. A steep rise in marketing costs, however, contributed to an 18% drop in net income last year to $2.7 million from $3.3 million.

Coupons.com says it raised $200 million in capital from institutional investors. The company, which distributes digital coupons through its own site and an affiliate network, says it plans to invest in social media and mobile commerce.

Newegg Inc., a web-only retailer of computers and consumer electronics, withdrew its IPO filing and will look at other options for funding growth in markets including Asia and Canada, general counsel Lee Cheng says. Sales keep growing, meanwhile, rising 8.7% last year to $2.5 billion from $2.3 billion in 2009.


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