£74m sportswear startup hits cyberspace

Boo.com splashes onto the Web after two false starts

Boo.com, one of the most keenly anticipated UK Net startups, launched Thursday, selling sportswear designed to appeal to the urban hipster. (See profile in Internet IPO bubblers .)

With backers such as LVMH Moet Hennessy-Louis Vuitton, which owns Christian Dior and Givenchy, and Goldman, Sachs & Co., Boo plans to market hip gear to markets where it has been scarce -- for example, selling London brands to New York customers.

After a few false starts caused by technical glitches, the site went live simultaneously across the UK, US, Germany, France and Scandinavia, supported by a barrage of slick advertising. The site was founded by Swedish twentysomethings Ernst Malmsten and Kajsa Leander (though it is headquartered in London) and features such cutting-edge features as rotating 3-D images of sports shoes and interactive mannequins.

A recent article in Management Today, co-sponsored by management consultants Bain, called Boo "perhaps the most talked about e-company in the UK" and estimated its financing at £74m. Two of the company's three founders earlier created bocus.com, now the third most successful online bookseller.

Despite concerns about how well the site's technical bells and whistles would function, most features appeared to be working well Thursday afternoon, though Macintosh users were warned they might experience glitches.

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