AboutUs Raises $2.5M from Voyager Capital to Create Collaborative Guide to the Web
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in a way that’s complementary to search engines, Wikis, and social networks. “For us, it’s not about being an information source, it’s about creating a technical platform on which people can work together,” King says. “It could be transformative for how people connect to each other. The market, I think it’s large.”
The company’s business model includes advertising and service fees. So one goal is to “create content that Google will find valuable,” King says. So far, the majority of AboutUs’s content is created by a robotic process that gathers data from existing websites. But the hope is that more people will start adding their own knowledge to the pages, which will drive traffic and ads.
Now back to the numbers. AboutUs is getting about 7 million unique visitors a month. The company has 31 employees, about half in Portland and half in Lahore, Pakistan. It previously raised $2.5 million in angel investments, and has been profitable since last June, says King. The current funding round is still open, and King says he’s talking with other potential investors, some in the San Francisco Bay Area. “We’re profitable, so we’re in pretty good shape, but if we find the right partner, we might do more,” King says.
Not surprisingly, King says he is very pleased with Voyager Capital. “Of the VCs we talked to, these guys are really knowledgeable in the space. Not viewing being in Portland as a disadvantage, but an area they want to serve, and serve well. I’m glad, because there’s been a dearth of Portland activity until now.”
King calls Benson “the ideal partner,” citing his knowledge of the Internet marketing space from his experience with San Diego-based Covario and Seattle success story aQuantive (which was acquired by Microsoft for $6.4 billion in 2007). “We think that AboutUs has the opportunity to create significant shareholder value, rivaling Voyager’s 1999 investment in aQuantive,” says Benson.
I asked King what the new capital will be used for. “We’re working on strategic initiatives around greater user engagement, moving towards collaborative work,” he says. As I understand it, that means moving out of startup frenzy mentality, and towards the strategic focus of helping people and groups connect and collaborate more effectively on the Web.
To succeed, of course, AboutUs will have to prove it is both easy to use and something people really need. “It’s a potentially large opportunity, and that’s what’s exciting,” says King. “If we can use the funds to be strategic, we have an opportunity to become something more than what we are now.”
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