By  on July 18, 2005

NEW YORK — Zazzle, an online retailer of personalized T-shirts and paper products, today plans to announce its first round of venture funding for $16 million, led by blue-chip venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.

The Menlo Park, Calif.-based company also launched a new product line today — customized postage stamps.

Zazzle has been selling personalized T-shirts online since 2003. Customers may select dozens of styles and colors, laser or higher-quality dye sublimation printing and images from a variety of sources, including individual artists, the Library of Congress and Disney. They can add words or supply their own artwork.

All orders are shipped in 24 hours. The shirts, sweatshirts and baby onesies from suppliers such as Hanes and American Apparel are printed in Zazzle's Menlo Park and Palo Alto factories using standard printers and processes that the company has enhanced with its own technology.

Some restrictions apply. The company won't print photos of celebrities without their permission, regardless of who owns the copyright, or obscene words or images. Zazzle, which uses a combination of software and people to vet the content, will also not print political images or messages, including U.S. officials, on postage stamps. Stamps.com started selling personalized postage stamps in May.

Zazzle does not reveal its revenues or order volume, said chief executive officer Robert Beaver. The company will use the venture funding to expand its just-in-time manufacturing operations, among other things, he said.

Zazzle is one of many firms using digital technology and the Web to explore "mass customization," or the making of unique products at competitive prices using factory production methods.

Among Kleiner Perkins' investments are AOL, Amazon and Google.

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