Internet Retailer Buys Social Networking Site

Internet retailer Buy.com announced Monday it had acquired social-networking start-up Metails.com. The move appears to be in line with a marketing strategy that involves fostering relationships based on like-buying-habits, proffering the products and brands du jour, and offering cash incentives to users willing to facilitate the affiliate marketer role.

Metails.com was launched in January by Jared Morgenstern and a couple of his Harvard pals. The company, said Morgenstern, is an online social network with a purpose--and by purpose he means generating a profit other than advertising revenue. Metails.com's management said it was in the process of raising additional capital when Buy.com, then an independent partner-retailer, expressed interest in purchasing the company.

Buy.com is not the first site to integrate a social network in the hope that it will pay off. Overstock.com recently announced that its new auction site contained a similar networking aspect.

Currently, users can earn a commission-like reward of up to 10 percent off purchase prices when they facilitate another users' purchase on the site. Morgenstern says that greater rewards are on the way for users who are willing to accept products that are referred to them.

Metails.com will soon move to Buy.com's offices in Aliso Viejo, California, but will retain its existing character and ndependence, say spokespersons for both companies.