It's rare these days to write about Web 1.0 companies, particularly when there's money involved. But online kitchen and housewares retailer Cooking.com on Wednesday said it entered into a $7 million loan agreement with Orix Venture Finance. Money will be used to expand the company's operations, enhance its community content and accelerate its private-label programs online.
Cooking.com was spawned by Idealab in 1998 and has raised $90 million in private funding from among others Clearstone Venture Partners, Pyramid Technology Fund, netWorth Partners and Mellon Ventures. It sells kitchen and housewares products and has a full slate of recipes. Though the company does not disclose its financials, Orix is a mid- to late-stage lender so Cooking is likely at or close to profitability
Cooking.com is in a very competitive field, taking on both online and bricks-and-mortar stores and a plethora of other cooking-related Web sites. In addition to its retail operations, it also runs Web sites for Starbucks Corp. [SBUX], Pillsbury, Betty Crocker and the Food Network.
That the company is still seeking financing suggests it isn't large enough to go public and continuing to grow the business was preferable to a buyout, while securing a loan rather than additional venture funding shows it was not interested in giving up additional equity. Cooking.com has been around long enough that its investors are likely looking for an exit sooner rather than later. The financing could be the first news in what could be an interesting year for the company. - David Shabelman