Cozi Surpasses 1 Million Members, Looks to Replace Pen and Paper for Managing Family Life

Want to simplify your holiday shopping lists this year? What about keeping track of who’s picking up the kids from the airport, or who’s going to watch the bird in the oven while you entertain guests? A Seattle startup appears to be gaining traction in helping people manage these kinds of tasks. Cozi, a software company that helps busy families organize their calendars, track to-do lists, and stay in touch, announced it has registered more than a million family members on its free Web-based service.

It’s been a busy and productive year for Cozi, as the company has made the jump from personal-computer software to a Web 2.0 service. In the process, it has added some partnerships with big companies like Whirlpool, Unilever, Best Buy, Gannett, and Meredith Corporation’s Better Homes and Gardens brand (just announced yesterday). And in the middle of the year, it began its advertising model and has signed on dozens of companies like Target, American Express, and Universal Studios.

Cozi launched its software product in the fall of 2006 and is backed by just over $16 million in funding, from Gannett and other investors. It was founded by veterans of Microsoft, Expedia, and Amazon. Most of its customers are based in the U.S., but Cozi also boasts users in about 125 other countries. “Reaching 1 million family members confirms the belief we’ve had all along that families will embrace technology to organize their busy lives and to stay connected to each other as long it simplifies rather than complicates family life,” says Carl Weinstein, Cozi’s chief marketing officer.

I asked Weinstein about the challenges associated with increasing numbers of users. “From a technical perspective, this is growth we expected and have been prepared for,” he replied. “We foresee no technical challenges that we haven’t already anticipated at this point. We’ve just finished the final phase of creating a highly scalable database architecture which will enable us to grow well beyond this level of use with little if any R&D overhead. As we add new features, and that is a big priority for us looking forward, we’re always considering scalability and redundancy given the size of our customer base.”

So where does it all go from here? Not surprisingly, Weinstein is upbeat. “This all bodes really well for Cozi in 2009. Our business model is strong, we are heavily focused on new feature development and our research indicates that more families than ever are ready to ditch their old ways of organizing for a modern solution,” he says. “Given that most families, regardless of how much technology they use personally at work or elsewhere, are still using pen and paper to manage the family, we are very excited about our prospects for the future.”

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