Friday, January 20, 2006

Topix defines News 2.0

After a hiatus of over three months, the Topix.net blog is back with a post by CEO Rich Skrenta namechecking the players in the increasingly crowded news startups sector and listing their venture capital funding:

Newsvine: $5M [Ed.: Newsvine denies taking $5M in funding]
TailRank
Gather.com: $9M, 23 employees
Memeorandum: ? Hints Gabe may have taken some funding
Digg: 2.8M
Findory
Associated Content: $5.4M
Jeff Jarvis/Upendra Shardanand/Craig Newmark news startup
Backfence: $3M
Pegasus News
Tinfinger
Inform: 55 employees(!)
Bayosphere (dead?)
and of course for completeness topix.net

Rich defines the market as startups "trying to tag, aggregate or community-edit the news", and also mentions Google News and MSN Newsbot. Michael Arrington at TechCrunch christened the sector as "News 2.0", and surveys some of the main players. Mike Davidson, CEO of Newsvine and a frequent writer of comments on other peoples' blogs (a sure sign of a smart player), doesn't want to be part of the scene, as he mentions in the comment of this blog post.

You are free to consider sites like Newsvine competitors of whatever other sites you'd like. If a person has X number of minutes to use the internet every day, every site is competing for that attention. We don't, however, view Gather, Digg, Slashdot, or any of the other sites you mention as competitors. If anything, it's more like the CNN.com's of the world we're trying to improve upon.

Given that Newsvine's founders are alumni from the ABC/ESPN/Disney MSM stable, this is understandable, and I wish them luck with that. Personally, I'd rather compete against people like me who aren't quite sure of what they're doing but are doing it for the right reasons, rather than go up against old media giants who have the money to buy people who know how to screw people like us. But maybe the Sviners are looking to get bought out by their old employers, who knows?

Those 16-odd companies Rich mentioned are all taking different angles on the News 2.0 concept, if such a concept exists as a coherent whole. There will be room for all of us unique snowflakes as long as we don't get too top-heavy with VC funding and headcount. Tinfinger is certainly not flush with either yet, so maybe our strategy will be to remain lean and hungry. It's good to have someone to compete against.

7 Comments:

Anonymous Mike D. said...

Thanks for the writeup Paul. Quick point of fact though: We did not take $5 million in financing. I know that number has been reported in other places as well, but it's not accurate.

7:10 am, January 20, 2006  
Blogger Paul Montgomery said...

Fair enough. How close is it? :D I guess if it was really that much your headcount would be more than 5 right now...

7:22 am, January 20, 2006  
Anonymous Rich Skrenta said...

Right, the sources http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/venture/247967_vc11.html and rafat's http://www.paidcontent.org/pc/arch/2005_11_11.shtml#052352

said "less than 5 million". I assumed that didn't mean a 300k seed round or something but who knows...

btw I think the newsvine execution has been brilliant so far. I'm a fan of small teams and really like the design choices Mike's made.

The list isn't meant to suggest that there is a direct win/lose competition between the players. I think for example digg and tinfinger are pretty far apart in terms of mission. But they are all sort of newsy and it's interesting to track what's getting funding, and later what ultimately gets traction with users and what doesn't.

7:39 am, January 20, 2006  
Anonymous Mike D. said...

Thanks for the nice comments Rich. We like your most recent redesign as well.

As for our funding, yeah, it's not a 300k seed round, but it's not $5 million either. Somewhere mysteriously in-between. :)

7:44 am, January 20, 2006  
Anonymous MonsterMan said...

You might want to check out News Bump as well. It's one that's caught my eye recently. The content there seems particularly good compared to most of the others you mentioned.

9:05 pm, January 20, 2006  
Anonymous Antony Mayfield said...

You've got a right to say who your competition is, of course. But everyone else decides who your omcpetition is for you in the end. If its delivering news to my PC screen, then Newsvine - which I'm trialling - *is* head to head with all of those services.

5:39 pm, January 21, 2006  
Anonymous Karl Prigge said...

I am curious to know why reddit wasn't mentioned anywhere, perhaps because topix doesn't consider it a competitor?

Is that because of the personalization reddit has from using filtering to make personal recommendations?

9:20 am, January 23, 2006  

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