Liz Gannes

Recent Posts by Liz Gannes

visual.ly Wants to Bring Nifty Charts and Graphs to the Rest of Us

The personal finance start-up Mint famously built its user base by posting engaging topical content on its corporate blog. Some of its most successful posts were infographics — some 130 of them — which garnered 30 to 40 times the page views of a comparable article.

That’s according to Stew Langille, former VP of marketing at Mint, who says the success of those infographics helped spark a data visualization renaissance on the Web (as well as the creation of far too many less rigorous “info posters”).

Now Langille has co-founded a start-up called visual.ly to build a community, market and tools for infographics.

Visual.ly is kind of similar to Scribd or SlideShare, but for infographics. They may be less popular and universal than PDFs and PowerPoints, but since infographics can be works of art and can also be quite hard to build, Langille thinks he has ample opportunities for premium businesses.

Later this year, visual.ly will release Web-based “prosumer” tools for editorial, marketing, student and other users to create their own shiny infographics. It also plans to give professional data visualization folks the opportunity to sell stylized templates for other people to use in their infographics.

Though infographics may seem kind of niche, what’s particularly neat about the ones visual.ly creates is that they can be interactive, and can be quickly rejiggered with new data. So a financial news site, for example, could automatically generate graphs for users to see how the Dow has changed this week. (Here’s an example of an interactive chart visual.ly created for CNN.)

The idea is for visual.ly to be more flexible and easier to use than alternatives like PhotoShop, Illustrator or Tableau. More serious users will have to pay something like $100-$250 per month, Langille said.

For today, though, visual.ly is just opening up its community — which is already seeded with 60,000 members and 2,000 infographics — to allow people to view, upload and embed infographics. It also created a fun Twitter visualization tool with Infochimps and Alchemy for users to see visual.ly in action.

I don’t know how easy it will actually be to create charts and graphs in visual.ly, but I can imagine that the first kids who use these infographics for school reports, the first local news sites that start churning out living stats. and the first interns who add visual.ly to their bosses’ PowerPoints are going to get some serious kudos.

Visual.ly has seed funding, was incubated at 500 Startups, and is now raising a Series A round, Langille said.


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