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Paul Allen stakes Priceline.com

The "name-your-price" online store has received a whopping $100 million in its short life.

    Microsoft cofounder Paul Allen and several other investors have taken a $55 million stake in the privately held, "name-your-price" online store Priceline.com.

    It is the third round of funding for Priceline.com, bringing the fledgling startup's backing to more than $100 million. Priceline.com began operations just eight months ago.

    The exact sum invested by Allen and his investment arm Vulcan Ventures was not disclosed.

    Investor enthusiasm for Priceline.com comes as little surprise considering the recent market run-ups in Internet stocks that are well positioned to rake it in over the holidays.

    Priceline.com offers Net shoppers a "name-your-price" service that allows buyers to bid what they would like to pay and gives sellers a chance to consider the offers. Priceline.com lets its users bid for airline tickets, hotel rooms, automobiles, and soon mortgages.

    In April, the firm was granted a patent that it says covers its technology and business model, including both the broad concepts and key functionality of buyer-driven commerce.

    Priceline maintains that this is a key difference between it and its competitors. Priceline's concept is in reverse from typical online retailers models that list goods or services for sale. Priceline allows buyers to list their price desired and the service try to locate sellers to sell at that price.

    For example, the advantage for the airline industry, according to Priceline, is that nearly 500,000 airline seats fly empty every day, and the service offers them a way to fill those seats.

    Priceline joins strong competitors in this space that include online auction sites eBay and Onsale, among others. Wall Street darling eBay has seen tremendous growth, even despite prolonged outages.

    Vulcan Ventures is joined in this round of financing by Liberty PL, a unit of Liberty Media, General Atlantic Partners, Quantum Industrial Partners, and Jim Manzi, former CEO of Lotus Development.

    Priceline began operations last April with $30 million in seed money. In its second round of fiancing in August, General Atlantic partners invested $20 million. That same month, former CitiCorp president Rick Braddock took the helm at Priceline.com as its CEO.

    Allen's firm is an investor in CNET, publisher of News.com.