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Too lazy to find something? Ask Reply

Reply, which gives you a form to fill out online and then goes out and tries to find what you're looking for, has scored $17 million in venture backing from Silicon Valley investor BA Venture Partners.

The moolah flows easily these days if your company serves what the industry calls "consumers," meaning Joe- and Jane-normal, like you and me -- as opposed to businesses. Note that Jobster started selling to companies, but is releasing a "consumer" product shortly.

And thus the bucks keep getting pumped into start-ups here, Reply being based in Walnut Creek, just outside of the valley.

We haven't talked with Reply, but it also appears to help both businesses and individuals. Reply wants to double its staff to 400 from 200 employees by this time next year, according to this VentureWire article (sub required).

According to VentureWire, this is how it works:

People shopping for cars, homes or insurance go to reply.com, fill out forms, and then later get contacted via phone or e-mail by one of Reply's more than 13,000 customers. Reply makes money each time a customer finds a business through the Reply portal. The Internet users shopping for homes and cars are not charged anything. The company's sales were about $20 million in 2004, and have grown at around 50% per year in each of the past three years...

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Reply is yet another online lead company although maybe a little late to the party. Companies like Homegain, LowerMyBills, and Dealix all sold a while back. Curious to see if the market holds up to get a return on that $17mm. Marketing for those leads is getting more competitive (i.e. expensive) and I bet some of their clients are moving more of their marketing in-house. The easy money in lead gen is drying up, unless you come up w/ the next 'Free iPod!' gimmick.

Tim on August 30, 2005 6:07 PM
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Not to mention companies like Respond.com and iMandi which were all funded during the bubble years (there were many others). I think Respond.com is still around.

R on August 31, 2005 1:52 PM
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Please folks, don't be taken by this company for a ride. I registered at AskReply few days back alongwith my "personal" info such as SSN#/DOB etc. and till to date haven't received a response.
I'm wondering may be they are a bunch of folks who collect and sell personal info.

J Doe on September 1, 2005 9:27 AM
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There seems to be another newcomer in the field of local referral service called getvendors.com It seems this portal is just a part of their offering and they have tools for 3rd party publishers also..let's see who survives after a few years..

looksgood on October 31, 2005 12:54 AM
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