Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Twitter List Service TLists Becomes Sulia, Raises $3.5 Million

Ah! You can still raise money for a start-up whose fate is tied directly to Twitter.

Here’s Sulia, which is dedicated to finding and sorting the most relevant Twitter users into related groups, so you can follow them.

The New York-based company has raised $3.5 million in a round led by FirstMark Capital. Other investors, who had previously put in $1 million, include Bo Peabody’s Village Ventures, Roger Ehrenberg’s IA Ventures, Chris Dixon’s Founder Collective and Ron Conway’s SV Angels.

If Sulia sounds vaguely like TLists, which did something similar, there’s a good reason for that. It’s the same company, rebranded and tilted slightly–can’t call this one a pivot.

The main difference is that while TLists was primarily supposed to be a tool for Web publishers and Twitter clients–it already works with TweetDeck, Flipboard and Mashable–Sulia is supposed to do that and provide a destination Web site. That is, it is becoming a publisher itself.

How will Sulia make money? The same way Twitter wants to: Act like a media company, and sell ads against the eyeballs it collects.

CEO and founder Jonathan Glick knows that world pretty well, given a work history that includes stints at iVillage and the New York Times. Prior to the start-up, he was director of research at Gerson Lehrman Group, which is both the subject of legal scrutiny and the world’s largest “expert network.”

At one point this summer, when the company was still called TLists, the start-up had a working relationship with Twitter, where it powered a grouping feature on the service’s profile pages.

From what I can tell, that feature disappeared with Twitter’s redesign, but I’m told the companies are still working together and may have something to show off within a few weeks.

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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