Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

Sugar Is Sweet?

And on the seventh day, at least we did not get another lump of Sugar.


After a year of manic site creation, Brian Sugar actually bought his first company, rather than extend his name further in the online women-focused arena.

Yesterday, Sugar’s San Francisco-based Sugar Publishing–which includes the flagship PopSugar (celebs), GeekSugar (tech), CasaSugar (home), YumSugar (food), well, we could go on but won’t for fear of lapsing into a diabetic coma–changed its name to Sugar Inc. and also acquired ShopStyle.com.

The all-equity deal for the Los Altos, Calif.-based social-shopping site will give Sugar a nice bit of technology to play in the Web commerce space more aggressively, with features that allow the quick creation of shopping widgets using products grabbed from all over the Internet.

Think of a digital version of one of those massive kitten-heel shoe spreads in Lucky magazine that also allows you to instantly buy stuff you see and you’ve got the right idea.

We sat down with the jumpy (really, he is) Brian Sugar and made a video interview recently, after noticing the tear he and his wife Lisa have been on since they founded their mini-empire last year.

Their activity has caused notice–last year, Yahoo almost bought the network of sites. The Sugars were probably glad they missed that bullet now, as their sites seem to be growing faster without a big partner.

The start-up is backed by Sequoia Capital and also NBC Universal, which have both sunk $15 million in total into the company, which uses a unique cross-pollinating style to grow its audience to about 5 million unique visitors a month.

NBC, via its iVillage subsidiary, sells the Sugar Network’s ads in a guaranteed deal for the company.

While it is a crowded space in all of Sugar’s subsidiaries, it’s also nice to see a sassy effort from the Sugars, who use a sweeter (sorry!) approach to coverage–some might call it saccharine (sorry again!) even–in the blog genre.

In other words, Lindsay Lohan is still a drunken, drug-addled mess, but don’t those super white nails look amazing!!!

The new buy is in keeping with Brian Sugar’s background of online commerce (top stints at J. Crew online and also Kmart’s ill-conceived BlueLight.com) and give Sugar sites another tool in an interesting arsenal.

“We’re aimed at an ADD culture,” said Sugar to me yesterday, and he is not kidding.

Each of his more than a dozen sites–yes, there is also a social network called TeamSugar, as well as a tagging site called, yep, Sugarlicio.us–has from 15 to 25 posts a day, with the user-generated content numbering upward of 15,000 items.

It all makes us feel like we’ve gained five pounds by just lingering on the sites. (Sorry once again, but these sugar puns are hard to resist!).

See Sugar in action:

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Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus