Online Community Site Rounds Up $18 Million Investment

The online community Web site eCircles.com announced Monday that it received an additional $18 million (US$) in private equity financing, topping off a first round financing of $6 million it received back in March.

The financing package was provided by venture capital firms CMGI (Nasdaq: CMGI), Nexus Group Ltd. and Adobe Systems, which provides the photo upload capabilities on the site.

“We’re very selective about the kinds of Web companies we add to our portfolio, and eCircles caught our attention as a good balance of technology, marketing and creative energy,” said Nexus Group general partner, Dave Leyrer. “eCircle’s potential to capture a significant online market segment is impressive to us and could be complementary to some of our other investments, including Garden.com, iVillage and Phone.com.”

Bringing People Together

The slogan might sound like a saccharine sweet Madison Ave. jingle, but eCircles’ main mission is to provide an online community to their users, a place where people can log on for free and start up a group communication site for their family and friends.

eCircles provides the forum to share photos and MP3 music, play games, plan group activities and — most importantly in the e-commerce model — to recommend products and services to one another.

The idea is not novel. Yahoo!, AOL, Excite and many other portals large and small have started up community-based sites. Nonetheless, eCircles seems to be doing a pretty good job of it. PC World Online named their site as the best online community site on the Web in their June issue.

Backed By Experience

Based in San Mateo, California, eCircles was founded last year and launched this past February. The company claims to have registered 250,000 users since then.

Its backers have an extensive investment portfolio in Internet start-ups. CMGI is the majority-owner of Engage, Activerse, Adsmart, Planet Direct and ZineZone, to name a few. Its affiliates have stakes in Lycos, Furniture.com, BizBuyer and many more sites.

In addition to its interests in gardens, phones and villages, Nexus Group also has stakes in Asia Online, Commerce One, enCommerce, Inc. and many more companies.

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