Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Bit.ly URL Shortener Raises $10 Million

Bit.ly, the start-up you’ve probably used recently to send someone a shorter version of a Web address, has raised another round of funding. The service, spun out of the Betaworks incubator, says that the RRE VC fund led the $10 million round, and that partner Eric Wiesen will join the company’s board.

Bit.ly has now raised about $14 million in a couple of years, but so far has only a nascent revenue stream: About 4,000 different companies have white label versions of Bit.ly’s URL shortener (the New York Times, for instance, uses Bit.ly to create addresses like this: http://nyti.ms/bm8lk2). But only some of them pay for that service, at a rate of $1,000 a month.

The real business, which Betaworks CEO John Borthwick says the company will begin to build out with its new money, is turning Bit.ly’s data set into money.

People clicked on six billion Bit.ly links last month, Borthwick says. And he imagines that all sorts of folks, from Google (GOOG) on down, would be willing to pay to license the data.

It’s worth noting that Yahoo (YHOO), among others, has been doing some tire-kicking around the service–maybe more, depending on whose story you’d like to listen to.

Other investors in this round include OATV, Mitch Kapor, Founders Fund, SV Angel, Joshua Stylman, Peter Hershberg and David Shen. The New York Times (NYT), as I have previously written, picked up a piece of Bit.ly this summer as partial payment for its work in in News.me, a yet-to-be-launched social news service for Apple’s (AAPL) iPad.


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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work