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Yossi Vardi, who is credited with the phenomenal success of ICQ (the instant messaging company formerly known as Mirabilis), confirmed that he has signed an agreement to provide consultancy services to Amazon.com and its founder and CEO Jeff Bezos.

Under the agreement, Vardi will be flying four times a year to the head office of the giant online retailer in Seattle. The agreement was only entered after American Online, which owns ICQ and for whom Vardi works, approved it.

Vardi, 60, is a seasoned industrialist and a highly esteemed Internet entrepreneur. He won his acclaim when he recognized the potential in a company that his son and three of his friends set up - Mirabilis, and invested in it and promoted it, and in June 1998 became a millionaire when America Online bought the company in a $407 million cash deal.

ICQ (I seek you) has recently entered Download.com's hall of fame as one of the most popular tools in the history of the site ever.

After the sale of ICQ, Vardi invested some of his profit in around 20 start-up companies. Vardi's success in promoting ICQ and other companies through what is known as viral marketing, in which hardly any money is invested in traditional marketing and advertising and popularity grows based on word-of-mouth (or mouse) on the Internet, has made him a guru of Internet-based marketing.

Talks between Bezos and Vardi began years ago. Rumor has it that Bezos has been trying to convince Vardi to advise Amazon since 1999.

Vardi refused to provide any details about the agreement or about the subjects on which he will be counseling Bezos, but it is reasonable to assume he will be focusing on marketing. He will be facing quite a challenge in the case of Amazon.com, which is already one of the most successful and well-known Internet firms.

Three weeks ago Amazon.com reported $1.1 billion in sales for the second quarter of the year - a 37 percent jump compared to the corresponding period last year. The company's loss fell to $43.3 million, compared to $93.6 million in the same period in 2002.