Become.com, a startup that wants to be the Google of comparison shopping, has raised $17.5 million in a third round of funding. The Mountain View, Calif.-based company seems to be fulfilling the promise we wrote about back in 2005.
At the time, we were impressed by Become.com’s “laser-like focus on (1) helping people comparison shop, while at the same time (2) using a clean search engine algorithm — free of paid placements, etc. — to help people research products.” In other words, it was one of the first sites that offered a truly comprehensive selection of products, reviews and purchasing options available online. (Top sites, like Shopping.com, were more limited because they required merchants to pay fees to be listed.) Chief executive Michael Yang tells me the company continues to emphasize its search technology, which has now indexed 5.6 billion web pages.
Since Become.com was founded in 2004, quite a few other sites have entered the field — TheFind, for example, is offering a similar clean search approach and seems to include more products (170 million, compared to Become.com’s 25 million), while Like has successfully brought visual search to comparison shopping. But Yang says his site continues to see rapid growth, with traffic increasing 260 percent between February 2007 and February 2008. Become.com isn’t yet in the same league as giants Shopping.com and NexTag, but at the current rate of growth, Yang says Become.com will be one of the top three comparison shopping sites in two or three years.
The company also plans to expand into other markets. Yang won’t offer any specific details, but says Become.com is looking at “other verticals that leverage our core search technology.”
Yang, along with co-founder Yeogirl Yun, has been in the comparison shopping market for a decade now, having co-founded MySimon in 1998. He says the field has matured quickly.
“Back in ’98, our number one goal was just to get big fast,” Yang says. “Now it’s more like, ‘Get profitable fast.'”
Become.com seems to be doing something right on that front — it’s in its second consecutive quarter of profitability.
This venture round brings Become.com’s total funding to more than $29 million. The funding comes from TPG Growth.