Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

Pretty Flipboard Fundraising at an Even Prettier $200 Million Valuation

Flipboard, the high-profile and highly designed social media reading app for the Apple iPad, is out raising another round of funding at an eye-popping $200 million valuation, according to numerous sources close to the situation.

The Palo Alto, CA, company declined to comment on its new funding efforts, which sources said had recently accelerated.

While that valuation might change, several sources considering the investment said it is unlikely to go down in the current frothy financing market in Silicon Valley, especially given Flipboard’s splashy profile and top-drawer pedigree.

Co-founded by longtime Silicon Valley entrepreneur Mike McCue and former Apple iPhone engineer Evan Doll in January, Flipboard launched to much attention in July.

That included $10.5 million in venture funding from Kleiner Perkins, Index Ventures and a spate of well known angel investors, such as Twitter Co-founder Jack Dorsey, Facebook Co-founder Dustin Moskovitz, the ubiquitous Ron Conway, actor Ashton Kutcher and the investment company of former News Corp. exec Peter Chernin.

At the time, it was unclear what Flipboard’s valuation was. But now, said several sources, it’s clocking in at a hefty $200 million, which is perhaps no surprise at a time of increasingly lofty investments in tech start-ups.

Suddenly, Foursquare’s $95 million valuation seems like a bargain! (Sorry, Dennis Crowley, for comparing you to the Kool-Aid pitcher dude.)

In any case, the elegant Flipboard–which McCue recently told me in an onstage interview at the South by Southwest conference in Austin had zero revenues thus far–has changed the game on the consumption of social media.

Its innovative social magazine concept is attempting to make the social networking universe more accessible, consumable and, perhaps most importantly, visually arresting via its rich app.

Essentially, Flipboard pulls information from sites such as Twitter and Facebook data streams and then reassembles it in an easy-to-navigate, personalized format in a mobile tablet touchscreen environment.

In this offering, there are pull quotes, photos, videos, status updates and even the first paragraphs of linked-out content. There is also the ability to comment and share, as if one were on Twitter or Facebook.

Flipboard has since added a number of features and will be launching its new iPhone app later this year.

Right now, the Flipboard app is free and the business plan is advertising and some possible subscription scenarios.

It will be interesting to see who will jump into this leader in a nascent market, besides its current investors. Sources said one likely target group for Flipboard could be a large traditional media company.

Until the financial dust settles, here is the video of an onstage interview by the Digital Solution’s Katherine Boehret with McCue at the All Things Digital event, D: Dive Into Mobile, in December:

(Full disclosure: ATD is part of Flipboard’s publisher beta program.)

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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