Great Gets $31M Cash Infusion

Online party supplier Great announced yesterday that it has received second round funding of $31 million (US$) from a variety of venture capital firms.

The San Francisco, California-based company, which launched its site last month, disclosed that original investor Benchmark Capital had doubled its investment. Technology Crossover Ventures led the financing round.

Great CEO Tanya Roberts said that the money will help the site develop a core of dedicated customers.

“We intend to use a good portion of it for customer acquisition and business development,” Roberts explained. “We’ll also look to invest in our infrastructure in order to serve our customers better.”

Party Like It’s 1999

According to Roberts, the company is actively pursuing strategic alliances so that it may become a “one-stop shopping destination for all entertainment and party needs.”

The company currently offers nearly 100 party themes and 3,500 entertaining products from over 100 suppliers. Roberts said it also provides menus, activities, tips and advice to users. Additionally, the company established a distribution warehouse in Ohio, close to manufacturers of its products.

Great Entertaining recently signed a $10 million deal with AOL to be the premier provider of party supplies and entertainment ideas across its sites. The co-branded site launched Tuesday.

“The AOL alliance was very important to us. They reach a lot of women and really provide us with an opportunity,” Roberts added.

Looking To Expand

Roberts also disclosed that Great Entertaining is planning to pursue a partnership with an online grocer so that it may deliver food to complete its full-party planning. The firm’s primary market is busy career women that venture frequently to the Web.

The disposable party supply industry was worth $11.5 billion last year, she added, and e-commerce features add more value to the industry.

“I think we’re redefining the market by adding more durable entertaining items and providing a cohesive theme,” she said. “It’s a substantial industry and any leadership position in the market will be worth paying attention to.”

Great Entertaining boasts of a management team that was seasoned at AOL,, Apple, Hewlett-Packard and other Internet and computer companies. Intuit Chairman Bill Campbell is a board member.

Great’s main competitors include Birthday Express and iParties.

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