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Google Investors Find New Project 206

Posted by Hemos
from the checking-the-future dept.
Greg Linden writes:"According to ZDNet, the investors behind Google are at it again. John Doerr and Ram Shriram are investing in Zazzle, a company targeting mass customization by allowing shoppers and store owners to create individually tailored clothes, prints, and other items. For example, customers can choose an image from a large image library, design a T-shirt using the image with online tools, and then have the T-shirt delivered to them. Lands' End, CafePress, and other online clothing stores offer similar mass customization services on a small scale, but Doerr clearly believes that there is a substantial opportunity 'for every individual who wants to create products that are as unique as they are.'"
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Google Investors Find New Project

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  • Won't they have trademark issues with Zazzle.com [zazzle.com]?
  • Is this really new? (Score:5, Informative)

    by OctaneZ (73357) <ben-slashdot2@NosPAM.uma.litech.org> on Monday July 18, 2005 @12:32PM (#13094830) Journal
    Is it just me, or does the idea for Zazzle [zazzle.com] seem remarkably close to the idea behind Cafe Press [cafepress.com]?
    • Sure, but the big difference is that these folks are funded by VC.

      So, you know, in a couple months when they figure out that there isn't a very big market for this stuff, they'll really really really tank, from the overhead they've, no doubt, incurred.
      • Blockquoth the poster:

        So, you know, in a couple months when they figure out that there isn't a very big market for this stuff

        Well, I've been using zazzle for at least three years, having been part of the beta group. So I think they're safely past the "couple of months" stage. Maybe you can make money on this and maybe you can't -- but the VCs this time are getting into a business with a track record you can read and interpret. It's not just some vapor.

    • by Oculus Habent (562837) * <oculus@habent.gmail@com> on Monday July 18, 2005 @12:51PM (#13095061) Journal
      CafePress [bascially] lets anyone sell stuff through them for royalties (you design, they sell/make/ship it). So does Zazzle. Zazzle also allows you to let buyers add/change your designs.

      Like the T-Shirt, but want the message on the pocket, instead? No problem. Want to tag your items with your name on the back? Done. Don't like the color of the font on that postcard? Change it. Want that poster to be a little shorter? Crop it.
    • Google was also remarkably close to the idea behind lots of early search engines but it ended up giving them the smackdown on market share.
    • deviantART (Score:3, Interesting)

      by De Lemming (227104)
      Another difference with Cafepress: Zazzle seems to promote interaction through its community. "Zazzle is home to contributors who are individual artists, photographers, designers and creative consumers worldwide. As a contributor, you can choose to make your creations public through a Zazzle gallery, where anyone can browse, comment or connect with you."

      This reminds me of deviantART [deviantart.com], which has a huge artist community. The community can interact through the deviantART website (forums, chat, they organise
    • They could do very well against Cafe Press if they can sell quality stuff. I've sold a lot of stuff off Cafe Press in the last few years, and its all essentially junk. T-shirts fade very quickly, colors are poor. Hard goods like mugs, frisbees, etc are just cheap. Everything seems to be low-quality transfer images or white stickers stuck onto bottom-of-the-bucket junk.

      A company that does quality merchandise could do very well.
    • Is it just me, or does the idea for Zazzle seem remarkably close to the idea behind Cafe Press?

      Jesus Christ, somebody gets +5 Informative for repeating something that's in the summary. Not even TFA, the fucking summary!

  • by lxt (724570) on Monday July 18, 2005 @12:34PM (#13094850) Journal
    ...as e- & i- are to Apple :)
  • Names (Score:5, Funny)

    by MrNonchalant (767683) on Monday July 18, 2005 @12:34PM (#13094851)
    First Google.

    Now Zazzle.

    What next? Gejujwh[NO CARRIER]
  • by rwven (663186) on Monday July 18, 2005 @12:34PM (#13094856)
    Not that this has anything directly to do with google, but think about how many companies have cropped up with new search "technologies" that will be better and more popular than google. How many people here can name any of them that have een covered by /. off the top of their heads? This, i believe, is one of those kinda of industries that is so engrained that everyone likes how it's being done and doesn't want it to change... Amazon and Ebay work great. why will anyone want to go to Zazzle instead? People like to stick with things they know and trust... My prediction is that it will fail. but maybe that's just me. :-)
    • "Not that this has anything directly to do with google".

      I know this sounds remote, but could some of google's money be involved with this? Really I could see google buying, or investing in this company, except it would probably piss off some of "partner" companies. I know.. not very likely but you never know right?


    • Go back to the top and read what Zazzle offers - then you'll see why Amazon and eBay can't fill that niche. Amazon and eBay are working to snag the big boys. That's where the big profits are. They started by grabbing everyone, but as time goes along, the ones who provide the most return for the effort are going to be those who turn the most volume.

      With Zazzle creating the one-offs of the standard product(s), it's now a vertical market Amazon & eBay won't really worry about until it becomes a nine
    • Blockquoth the poster:

      why will anyone want to go to Zazzle instead?

      Well, as someone who does... I use zazzle to make posters for my classroom, (nice) prints+frames for my relatives, customizable T-shirts for my classes. I make the stuff open to the world, but I'm not expecting to make money on it. Nonetheless I do get a small trickle of royalties, which is money I made without any extra effort.

      Every time I tell someone about zazzle -- and I've been doing that for three years now -- they get excited

  • by HotNeedleOfInquiry (598897) on Monday July 18, 2005 @12:34PM (#13094863)
    Wow, I can't wait. I soooo love to shop online.
    • Yes, because 160x160 pictures of the box shit comes in with tiny captions which are poorly transcribed copies of what is on the box... that's enough to make a sale from...

      hehehe

      Though to be honest I've been lucky and only been burned once [was a screen protector for my Ipaq, the one I ordered, labeled for my ipaq didn't fit and within 30 mins was peeling off].

      Tom
  • I've used Zazzle... (Score:5, Informative)

    by MaestroSartori (146297) on Monday July 18, 2005 @12:35PM (#13094865) Homepage
    ...and its pretty cool. As an artist, you can use it to get your artwork printed onto say archival-quality paper, or a big canvas, or whatever. As a shopper you can get artwork you like on objects of various sorts.

    Dunno if its something I'd bet a large amount of money on as an investor, since I'm not sure how much money they'd expect a site like that to make, but its a pretty friendly and good site for what it does. Maybe that's enough...
    • The ability to print archivally is pretty cool, but I wonder who's paper it really is. Zazzle "GOLD MATTE" isn't a paper I've seen on the shelves anywhere.

    • I've been looking for something like this. I have a few art type things that people want prints of -- but the cost of getting a large format printer is not proportional to interest in whay I have to offer :). I for one, am excited.
    • Yeah, the nice thing about Zazzle is that you can design something really cool without leaving the browser.

      No need to load up and fsck with Photoshop or Gimp (two programs I can't really use well anyways) as with CafePress and it's relations. You can pick your fonts, sizes and so forth right there in Firefox.

      Now, if I would have worked in the past 4 years maybe I'd buy a few things from them... But it is fun to play with too!
    • The idea behind Zazzle is great, but service totally sucks. I created a shirt and place an order for like 13 shirts as a surprise gag for a friends out-of-town graduation.

      There was no way to guarantee when shipping would occur. They had some process (I forget what it entailed, maybe paying for priority shipping) that allowed you to jump the line and get priority printing. I followed the process and sent several emails through their online forms telling them that if I could not get the shirts before a speci
  • by hhg (200613)
    Didn't Amazon already patent e-shopping? By the way, didn't Amazon also patent "Land of the free"?
  • by eln (21727)
    So the guys who got lucky and invested their money in the right place decide to throw money at something else. This is sort of the whole idea behind being a venture capitalist.

    Now, if the brains behind Google decided to start another company, that would be news, but VCs invest in new companies all the time. The only notable thing about this one is that the company they're investing in sounds just as shaky as the crap VCs used to throw money at in the 90s.
    • I agree. I think it will be hard for them to be profitable with all of the customization they allow. People will be willing to pay for the novelty at first, but will they sustain a steady flow of business at prices that allow them to make a decent profit?
  • What? (Score:5, Informative)

    by DrEldarion (114072) on Monday July 18, 2005 @12:35PM (#13094873)
    "Fully customize their online experience" doesn't describe at all what Zazzle is. The customization comes in the GOODS that are made, not in the experience itself.

    It's basically a glorified Cafepress.
  • Hmm...like another poster mentioned, it's kind of like Cafepress, with the important difference that the item is customized by the person buying it. So, rather than me being able to choose from various items that the vendor has created, using his or her artwork, I get to place the artwork of one or more people on any number of items.

    Zazzle draws on the creative works of community members and more than 10,000 contributing artists, along with images from partners like Walt Disney, the Library of Congress a

    • Cafepress is cool, but there are some jokes/phases/logos that would be especially fun if noone else had it. I would see this site catering to not only the got-my-kid's-name-on-a-tshirt bunch but also the geeky inside-joke group - where maybe five of your friends are the only ones who will get understand the t-shirt. It's the ultimate insider wear.
  • It seems like they are a true, domestic manufacturer. They are very well known (not necessarily to everyone, but to a lot of people) for their custom image clothing. They say that they can get it to your house in 3-4 days [zazzle.com]. If they can do this, it sounds like it is not coming on the slow boat from some Chinese sweatshop (Nike, hint hint), but rather good ol' Made in the USA.
    • by mattdm (1931) on Monday July 18, 2005 @12:46PM (#13095004) Homepage
      It seems like they are a true, domestic manufacturer. They are very well known (not necessarily to everyone, but to a lot of people) for their custom image clothing. They say that they can get it to your house in 3-4 days. If they can do this, it sounds like it is not coming on the slow boat from some Chinese sweatshop (Nike, hint hint), but rather good ol' Made in the USA.

      I doubt it. They're probably *printed on* in the US, but the blank t-shirts come from whereever. Their "Premium" [zazzle.com] shirts are Hanes (which is Sara Lee, one of the worst multinationals for fair trade and labor practices -- way worse than Nike. Ask Google.) They don't mention a brand for their "Basic" shirts, probably so they can change it up with whatever is cheapest at the time.
      • which is Sara Lee, one of the worst multinationals for fair trade and labor practices -- way worse than Nike
        Hey buddy... Nobody doesn't like Sara Lee.
      • You realize that multinationals, including Nike, tend to pay higher wages and have better working conditions than domestic companies in developing countries?

        They can do this because they have access to better technology, management, and markets than the domestic industries do, and thus have higher productivity. Thus they pay more, and that is why people flock to work at maquilas.

        Look at Johan Norberg's article [johannorberg.net] about Nike workers in Vietnam. For example, they make three times the minimum wage of Vietname
    • This may be slightly off topic, but I have to say that most of the clothing that I get from the good ol' US of A, seems to be lacking in quality. Yes I get tons of crap from overseas as well. But when it comes to paying $20+ for a T-Shirt, the 'crap' I get from overseas seems way better than the Made in America shirts of the same price (Look at the crap coming from places like ThinkGeek). And at the end of the day, I don't care where it's made, so long as I get the best bang for my buck.

      Now whether this
  • press release spam (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mattdm (1931) on Monday July 18, 2005 @12:36PM (#13094894) Homepage
    I get this kind of thing in my inbox every day -- excited superlatives pumping up some penny stock or other, in the hopes that the gullible masses will get excited and throw away some of their money. This is the *exact* same thing, except the people behind it are bigger fish and so know how to write a press release that ZDNet will pick up and republish as news -- and then they hit the jackpot when sites like Slashdot republish it as legitimate. Yippie.
    • by Jim Hall (2985) on Monday July 18, 2005 @12:51PM (#13095065) Homepage

      Hype for Nerds. Stuff that doesn't matter.

      I mean, really. We've posted an article not about Google or what Google is up to next, but about the guys that gave Google money and the next project they are funding. This is pure hype, guys. I hope Slashdot got a kickback on this.

    • Still mad that you didn't invest in Google, huh?
    • Except for the fact that Zazzle isn't quoted on any stock exchange (yet?), so the masses can't invest.


      • If you had enough to invest, I'm certain they would permit you to do so.

        As far as being a common investor, you'll likely have to wait a bit - unless you want to become an employee.


  • by DoorFrame (22108) on Monday July 18, 2005 @12:39PM (#13094923) Homepage
    Sure, it's a good idea. And I really don't mind there being more competition in the market, but isn't CafePress [cafepress.com] already doing this with all sorts of apparel and other easily printable goods? In addition, isn't Stamps.com [stamps.com] already doing this with stamps. And aren't there a number [ofoto.com] of [flicker.com] sites [shutterfly.com] that do this with photographs?

    Yeah, printing customized materials cheaply is a great service... and combining the best features of all the currently available sites can only benefit us as a whole, but it's not unique and I'd be surprised if it were a big success.
    • Sure, it's a good idea. And I really don't mind there being more competition in the market, but isn't CafePress already doing this with all sorts of apparel and other easily printable goods? In addition, isn't Stamps.com already doing this with stamps. And aren't there a number of sites that do this with photographs?

      Yes, yes, but Amazon.com already patented that and doing business on the Internet in general.

    • I've been aware of zazzle for about as long as I have of cafepress, which is a little over three years. I don't know why everyone's acting as if this were some vapor startup. It's a going concern that has been producing happy customers for a long while.

      (Disclaimer: I don't know how long cafepress has been in operation. I suspect, however, that it is not significantly longer than zazzle.)
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Name them...

    [constanant][vowel][double constanant]le

    I think Snoop Dog had prior art years ago, fo' shizzle.
  • The investors behind google did it again: Can somebody provide stats that they are always right?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    does that mean that I can have naked Swedish girls give me a massage during my online experience, or does fully customize mean, not really "fully" customizeable. We just allow you to set some preferences around..
  • by MrLint (519792)
    Are they going to have enough money to pay off amazon or its patent lawyers for all the obvious business practice patents bezos has been granted?
  • The Green Tennis Shoes Principle [blogspot.com] is (roughly) that the Internet brings makes it efficient to market niche products.

    Zazzle looks to allow you to customize your selling experience. It's hoping to let folks like flea market vendors (and they are legion) sell their wares in a custom-looking environment. If it's easy enough, it shoud work really well.

    Ebay, Yahoo!, AOL, et al will probably copy the idea.

  • Awesome! (Score:3, Funny)

    by Jakeypants (860350) on Monday July 18, 2005 @01:03PM (#13095180)
    I can't wait to customizer my Zazzle!

    I'd also appreciate being able to conflaggle my blunker, but I'll take what I can get.
    • Re:Awesome! (Score:4, Funny)

      by The-Bus (138060) on Monday July 18, 2005 @01:27PM (#13095429)
      If anything, I think the idiots that created (and popularized) the words "blog" (webpage) and "podcast" (audio) are now going to turn to "zazzling" everything when it just means customize. Like, the entire blogosphere needs to know about this product. Zazzle your logos for your podcast on a shirt! Let other bloggers further zazzle your zazzle!

      Don't like the way your new Toyota Camry looks? There's plenty of aftermarket zazzlers which can zazzle-ify your car (or "blogmobile").

      I pray this doesn't really happen.
  • Well, yes, maybe. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Andrew Tanenbaum (896883) on Monday July 18, 2005 @01:04PM (#13095186)
    I just went to register on the site. I don't see how it is really different to a lot of established create your own product sites. Maybe they will just market better. I agree that there is a lot of variation on what you can create. As they say: "Lots of places offer apparel, posters, and cards - and we do too. But no one else offers the range of sizes, colors or media that you find at Zazzle. And no one else utilizes our state-of-the-art reproduction techniques that deliver exceptional color, feel and resolution. " Hmm, maybe. Maybe. But, what's in it for the punter? If you use CafePress, you can set your own prices and make money. At Zazzle, you get a flat 10%. That's a in anyone's money. The users will make the site, they are effectively selling their creativity - and yet the return is pathetic. Despite the brilliance of the investors, I suggest this company will . And even if it doesn't, it isn't adding anything of interest to the world.
  • Maybe with the money behind Google, Zazzle can finally get their "scrollies" menus to work in Firefox.
  • It's 1999 again! Let the good times roll!
  • If Zazzle can't even get Your/you're [zazzle.com] right on a front-facing, high-profile license site, I don't think I really want to trust them with my money.

  • Because we all know it was the VC company that was truly responsible for Google's success!
  • Obviously these investors made the foolish mistake of investing in a mispelled version of Zazzol.
  • The primary difference I can see between other sites (cafepress, etc) and zazzle is that zazzle will simply allow you to contribute creative without requiring you to actually sell the end product (mugs, shirts, etc). This could become a clearinghouse for artists who want to make their stuff available to others for 'mixing' (or mashup, or whatever the term is today).

    If cafepress cut a deal to allow people to search through flickr, for example, use those pics on a mug, then cut the original flickr uploader
    • Well, it looks like I was sort of wrong. Apparently you can't just take any Disney photo and use it on your own product. That seemed to good to be true. Perhaps you can do it with other contributions from other users, but the corporate contributors just allow you to customize the shirt a bit (color, size, etc).

      My original understanding of this seemed much better. :/
  • What the world of online shopping really needs, well, at least I'm speaking for the situation in The Netherlands, is for online stores that sell clothes to sort them by size-availability. I'm only interested in things that fit me, and when I can get those (now or in 1-2 weeks). I hate browsing through a dozen pages only to find out nothing is available in my size. I hate browsing through racks in stores as well, but at least you can argue that in a store hanging the same kind of clothes together is more app
  • Overestimating customization [wikipedia.org] & niche market need and assuming that dot-coms-bring-prices-down-mass-market-at-work is a bad business strategy. [wikipedia.org]

    Btw, Mr Sriram has little to do with Google's huge success. He made his billions pimping for the two crazy lads. Google's wasn't even mentioned in his presentation in 1999 [rediff.com]. Give credit where credit is due.

    --
    "There is a $5 trillion market opportunity for e-commerce today. " Ram Shriram Circa 1999 AD

  • At first I thought it wouldn't be possible do to such a thing but then examples poured into my mind:
    a) The gym, where I go to customize my mass (it only affects me, hence "small scale", although the wife would object the "small" part)
    b)Nanobots can customize anything in a very small scale - too bad they don't exist yet

    But I don't think small online stores selling personalized itens fit into this category.

  • by Sheepdot (211478)
    Investor backing has nothing to do with this market. As others have mentioned, cafeexpress offers this service as well as some people on half.com or ebay. I even tried doing this at one point.

    I ended up tossing the idea because of two main reasons:

    1) To make any money, you have to sell in bulk with the same printing, and usually people just want one or two of the item; be it a shirt with a picture of dad-catching-a-fish or susies-first-bike-ride.

    2) Cost. Your customers want to spend 15 dollars for a 15 d
  • Haven't tried Zazzle, but have tried CustomInk.com... they have a neato little "lab" where you can design your shirts. It allows you to upload whatever graphics you want, add text, change fonts, positioning, size, color. Seemed pretty complete. We drew up a nice shirt design with our band's logo, did some text and ordered up a few dozen shirts in various sizes so we had something to sell at shows. I really liked the flexibility of the design lab, and I think they were working on the ability to have somethin
  • A while back there was a story on the winners of a computer-generated graphics competition. One of them included a link to a Zazzle page where you could buy a poster [zazzle.com]. Since I had just moved into my new apartment, I ended up going to search several hundred posters more and finally found three I really liked (yes, there's a lot of crap on the site :P), paid for 'em, and they arrived quickly.

    Look great. My only complaint is that one is a *little* lower resolution than I would have hoped - some of the details
  • When uploading JPEGs created in GIMP, the site returns:

    "could not upload JPEG, please use proper JPEG format"

    So I re-save the image with MS-paintbrush still the same error...
    Not very happy, not very happy at all...

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