Tuesday, November 04, 2008

NYT: Azure Capital Bets on Digital Jeans and Shovels

"Azure Capital Partners, a San Francisco venture capital firm, aims to invest in Web companies that work behind the scenes.

As Mike Kwatinetz, a general partner at Azure put it, “During the gold rush, jeans companies and shovel companies made much more money than the average prospector.” Applying that strategy to Web start-ups, Azure is investing in Web businesses that provide revenue or content to other Web sites.

Mr. Kwatinetz cited Google as one of the original examples of an Internet company that helps other sites make money. Its AdSense program helps individual publishers make money from their sites.

Azure has several companies in its portfolio that fit Mr. Kwatinetz’s gold rush theory. One is EzRez Software. It allows any business to sell travel packages — flights, hotel stays, rental cars and the like — through its own Web site. Most airlines and hotels are trying to get customers to stop using online travel agencies, like Orbitz and Travelocity, in favor of booking directly through the travel provider’s site. But people use those online travel agency sites to book all their travel needs at once, and the flight-hotel-car packages make the most money."

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