When beloved dot com disaster Kozmo.com first teased a relaunch yesterday, we crossed our fingers that cofounders Joseph Park (now the CEO of Bluefly) and Yong Kang (who ended up at Lehman Brothers after Kozmo) were dusting off their grand piano to yell “IPO! IPO!” again. Sadly, no. But the domain’s new owners also hail from that era, albeit post-crash.
The company behind the relaunch is Yummy.com, an online grocery delivery chain based in Los Angeles. It was founded by CEO Barnaby Montgomery and COO Arthur Zonneveld in 2002—after Kozmo and UrbanFetch, which were once in talks to merge, had both collapsed. Here’s Zonneveld telling the L.A. Times in 2003 how “difficult” the online grocery game was to operate. But hey, since premium delivery now passes for innovation, why not chase the ghost of Kozmo and go big fast?
Yummy.com actually announced a planned national expansion this past June, only no one in the tech world was listening. A nostalgic URL like Kozmo.com certainly helps get attention, and the company (also known as Yummy Foods, LLC) has been after the Kozmo brand for awhile.
They were granted two trademarks for KOZMO in 2011. (Filing trademarks seems to be a habit with Yummy.) Domain Name Wire, which reported the KOZMO trademark news last July, also included the mock-up on the right submitted by the company:
Registration 4,041,920 covers “Retail store and on-line retail store services featuring groceries, fruit, vegetables, bakery, dairy products, deli, beverages, breakfast foods, household cleaning products, laundry products, pet products, medicines, baby food, liquor, and tobacco.”
Registration 4,041,921 covers “Delivery of movies, books, magazines, groceries, food, beverages, and tobacco products ordered via the phone, internet, or mobile device and delivered by car or truck.”
Then last summer, Yummy filed a complaint with the World Intellectual Property Organization for the domain Kozmo.com, which at that point was “in arrears 7 years” for renewal. According to the complaint, no one from the defunct original Kozmo responded. The latest update on WHO IS currently lists the contact for the domain as Yummy Food, LLC.
I’ve reached out to both Park and Kang, as well as Montgomery and Evan G. Anderson, the lawyer listed on the KOZMO trademark and will update the post if I hear back. Anderson is the founder of Brand Ventures IP Law, the legal representative noted in the WIPO complaint.
Unfortunately, everything we’ve seen online about Montgomery’s plans have dashed any hope that the new Kozmo will be anything like the old one. For one, Yummy.com's (very Web 1.0) homepage boldly emphasizes that free delivery is only available for orders over $100.
Then there's issue of whether a local company can scale. Back in 2010, Entrepreneur magazine named Yummy.com one of its “100 Brilliant Ideas” with this brief description: “This chain of three L.A. grocery stores delivers the goods in bright Yummy Honda Elements.” However, the big expansion announcement in June shows that they’re only up to four locations since then, all in Los Angeles.
Positioned as a neighborhood market, Yummy.com features a wide selection of fresh fruits and vegetables, fresh meat, packaged, gourmet and organic groceries, and offers a promise of delivery in about 30 minutes, giving local customers what they want, when they want it. Each Yummy.com location includes a storefront featuring thousands of grocery items, including fresh produce, fresh meat, packaged groceries, pet supplies, over-the-counter medications, cleaning products and household necessities. With the addition of the Silver Lake store, Yummy.com fulfills approximately 20,000 same-day orders each month from four locations, including Hollywood (delivery only), Santa Monica (storefront and delivery), and Playa Vista (storefront and delivery).
Perhaps they've found a partner or some masochistic venture capitalists since then. But neither Montgomery nor Zonneveld's name showed up on a Form D showing that they have raised funds. There are ways of hiding and delaying filing, but considering how uninterested the pair are in covering their tracks, it seems notable.
UPDATE: Barnaby Montgomery, the CEO of Yummy.com, provided the following statement to Valleywag:
Yummy.com acquired Kozmo.com with plans to leverage the brand for a new on-demand delivery service based on Yummy.com’s successful business model. Over the past 10 years, Yummy.com, an online grocery delivery service based in Los Angeles, has successfully optimized a proprietary system that allows the company to profitably fulfill a high volume of orders, on demand, in as little as 30 minutes. Yummy.com was founded on the core belief that customers should be able to get what they want, when they want it, rather than rely on old-fashioned online fulfillment, or a trip to the store. As consumer demand grows for same-day delivery services, we felt that owning an iconic brand like Kozmo allows us to expand our proprietary on-demand delivery system into new geographies and categories. While we can’t comment on any pending deals or the timing of launch plans, we think that the current retail landscape is ripe for disruption and we are excited to reintroduce a popular brand – this time with a proven, solid business model – in the near future.
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