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Kozmo.com Drops Bid to Sell Alcohol

By Satwiksai Seshasai
CHAIRMAN

If your idea of a perfect evening includes “The Matrix” on DVD, a bag of Doritos, and a six-pack of Sam Adams Boston Ale, all delivered to your door within the hour by Kozmo.com, forget it.

Kozmo.com, an on-demand deliverer of snacks and entertainment, withdrew its application for a liquor license last week after pressure from regional college officials and the Boston Police Department.

Kozmo.com spokesman Ken Frydman refused to comment on the matter beyond confirming the withdrawal of the application, stating that Kozmo.com has entered a “quiet period” following a recent filing for an initial public offering of stock.

Warehouse leased from Harvard

Administrators at Boston University, Boston College, and Harvard University filed protest letters following Kozmo.com’s application. MIT was not directly involved.

Harvard, the landlord of Kozmo.com’s Allston warehouse, was the most adamant opponent.

“The proposal was a dramatic change in their lease,” said Kevin McCluskey, director of community relations for Harvard University, adding that Harvard would oppose using their property for any alcohol distribution.

According to The Boston Globe, Kozmo.com sought to reach a compromise by delaying the process and considering alternatives such as banning alcohol delivery to college campuses, restricting beer deliveries in certain zip codes, or limiting the number of alcohol deliveries made to certain addresses. Such plans failed to garner support from Harvard, however.

“There isn’t any viable alternative,” said McCluskey. “Any possible scenarios would be opposed.”

According to McCluskey, Kozmo.com has permanently removed their application and will not submit it again.

Kozmo.com has also filed for liquor licenses in other cities, but has yet to gain approval anywhere.

MIT uninvolved in protests

The Institute has not had the opportunity to come up with a stance on the issue, said Dean of Student Life Margaret R. Bates.

“To the best of my knowledge, we weren’t contacted [to join the protesting colleges],” said Bates. Although MIT students would have been able to buy liquor online had the application been approved, Bates said that the protesting universities “were involved for specific purposes.”

Bates said that there are clear lines of responsibility established with traditional means of alcohol purchase. “The troubling thing is that [online ordering] blurs the lines of responsibility,” said Bates.

Despite the failure to include liquor on their menu, Kozmo.com continues to grow. In 1999, Kozmo.com’s number of registered users grew at a monthly rate of 30 percent, according to its IPO filing.

The company offers free one-hour delivery of videos, DVDs, music, snacks and other items to residents of major cities such as Boston, New York, Washington D. C. and Los Angeles. All orders are placed on its website, <http://www.kozmo.com>.