Amazon makes Net triple play

The Net retailer buys Exchange.com, Accept.com, and Alexa Internet in an effort to expand both its volume of titles and its range of technology.

Amazon.com today said it agreed to buy Exchange.com, Accept.com, and Alexa Internet, an Internet triple play that will expand both its volume of titles and its range of technology.

As first reported by CNET News.com, Amazon spent a total of $645 million on today's shopping frenzy.

At the center of the acquired trio is Exchange.com, which specializes in hard-to-find book titles at its Bibliofind.com site and hard-to-find music titles and memorabilia at MusicFile.com.

"This is a win for Amazon.com customers because it further increases our selection of rare and obscure items and it's a win for the thousands of independent dealers on Bibliofind.com and MusicFile.com who will now be able to reach our 8 million experienced online shoppers," Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos said in a statement.

Bibliofile has 9 million listings; MusicFile.com has more than 3 million.

It is fairly clear how Exchange.com will fit into Amazon.com's business. Less obvious is the reasoning behind Amazon's other two acquisitions.

Accept.com, a privately held start-up launched under the name "Emptor" by executives formerly with Netscape Communications and PointCast, is "currently developing longer-range solutions to simplify person-to-person and business-to-consumer transactions on the Internet," according to Amazon. But Amazon declined to more specifically describe Accept.com's technology or say how Amazon would implement it.

But Bezos told CNET News.com that the deal came about because, "We met a great management team and fell in love." Alexa Internet is familiar to Netizens for its database of related Web sites currently offered through both Microsoft's Internet Explorer browser, version 5.0, and Netscape's Communicator, versions 4.06 and above. Alexa also maintains an archive of the Web. Launched in April of 1996, the archive is now 13 terabytes of text, audio, and graphical files.

Again, Amazon declined to say how it planned to integrate Alexa's technology into its own services.

"Alexa has a pretty interesting database with really good information about what people are doing on the Web and also relationships with close to a million users and potential relationships with a larger number," said Barry Parr, analyst with IDC. "The immediate application by Amazon isn't obvious, but it's an interesting group of folks in an interesting position in the marketplace."

"We are always interested in companies that have a good strong customer focus, have a team of really great people, and have an important product or service," said Amazon spokesperson Bill Curry. "It's too soon to say how these are going to be implemented. We have some great ideas for their potential, but it's premature to say what they are at this point."

Amazon.com is acquiring all outstanding shares and assuming all outstanding options of the three companies.

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