Kara Swisher

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Former AOLer Jim Bankoff Scores $7 Million for Sports News and Community Start-Up

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Jim Bankoff–the well-regarded former AOL exec who runs an online sports news network called SB Nation–has nabbed $7 million in funding from investors to grow the company, including Comcast Interactive Capital, said sources.

There was also a Securities and Exchange Commission document filed on the transaction today, under the name Sportsblogs Inc., which you can see here.

The SEC filing noted that the money invested was $7.95 million. But sources said that the nearly million-dollar difference is for giving cash to early employees and founders and will not be used to fund SB Nation.

People familiar with the situation said SB Nation’s post-investment valuation, after this second round, will be $30 million and also include previous investors, such as Accel Partners and Allen & Co.

Its first round–which also included several prominent angel investors, such as former AOL exec Ted Leonsis and LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner–was $5 million.

SB Nation has used that investment to grow like gangbusters over the last year, especially since Bankoff arrived last fall as its chairman and CEO.

Depending on which survey service you reference, the site has between four and seven million unique visitors a month.

It has done distribution deals with Internet giants like Yahoo (YHOO) to goose that growth.

While it has been around since 2003, founded by DailyKos’s Markos Moulitsas and others, the Washington, D.C.-based start-up has been aiming more at the sweet spot of local sports pages, especially as newspapers have become weaker.

SB Nation also covers national sports, using a community network of blogs, analysis and news.

Comcast Interactive Capital, which is the venture arm of Comcast (CMCSA), will also get a board seat for David Zilberman.

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Bankoff (pictured here) was a longtime AOL exec, ultimately in charge of programming and products there. He worked on such products as TMZ.com, Moviefone, MapQuest and Netscape, as well as its AIM and ICQ messaging offerings.

After he left the Time Warner (TWX) online unit, he became a senior adviser to Providence Equity Partners. Bankoff still has that role, but has been working full-time at SB Nation for a year.


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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald