Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

Google+’s Horowitz Talks About Joining Board of Wordnik, as Online Dictionary Site Garners $8M More in Funding (Video)

Google+ kingpin Bradley Horowitz has joined the board of Wordnik, which has also just raised another round of funding of $8 million.

It’s the first board seat ever for Horowitz, who has been a bit busy of late launching the search giant’s first successful social networking product.

Wordnik, which claims to have the word’s most complete map of the language you are currently reading, was founded by Erin McKean, the former editor in chief of the New Oxford American Dictionary.

On its Web site, Wordnik notes it has “billions of words, 965,125,300 example sentences, 6,690,770 unique words, 223,693 comments, 168,573 tags, 121,180 pronunciations, 61,144 favorites and 936,294 words in 30,038 lists created by 70,054 Wordniks.”

Its grand aim is to be the company that powers definitions and context for publishers of all kinds around the Web — from blogs to articles to even tweets — much as a mapping company might render navigational information.

The aim of owning the world’s largest word graph is ambitious and innovative, although the effort to create a viable business out of it all will be its next job. Wordnik now has 18 employees at its San Mateo, Calif., HQ.

McKean gave a demo of its Smartwords feature at the eighth D: All Things Digital conference in 2010, after it had earlier raised $4.8 million from a number of venture firms and other angel investors.

Here’s an interview I did with McKean, Horowitz and Wordnik CEO Joe Hyrkin, who came on board in March, this weekend outside Buck’s in Woodside, as well as the video of the D8 demo of Wordnik:

And here is the official press release about the new funding and Horowitz appointment:


Horowitz Accepts First Board Appointment; New and Existing Investors Support Wordnik as it Takes Innovative Word/Context Discovery Capability to the Marketplace

SAN MATEO, Calif. – July 25, 2011 – Wordnik, maker of the most innovative word navigation system, today announced that Bradley Horowitz, Vice President of Product Management for Google and longtime Silicon Valley executive, would join its board of directors. This is Horowitz’s first board appointment.

In addition, Wordnik has raised $8 million in its third round of venture capital funding, led by new investor Lucas Venture Group. Mohr Davidow Ventures, FLOODGATE, Baseline Ventures, Roger McNamee and additional private investors also participated in this round, which is earmarked to fund strategic growth as Wordnik builds out a range of new product and service offerings. This Series C investment brings Wordnik’s total funding to $12.8 million.

One of the most highly respected executives in the high-tech industry, Bradley Horowitz oversees product design for Google’s social and communications efforts including Gmail, Blogger, Picasa, and the recently launched Google+ Project. Before joining Google, Horowitz led Yahoo’s advanced development division, which developed new products such as Yahoo! Pipes, and drove the acquisition of products such as Flickr and MyBlogLog. Previously, he was Co-Founder and CTO of Virage, where he oversaw the technical direction of the company from its founding through its IPO and eventual acquisition by Autonomy.

“I’ve devoted my career to finding and working on innovative technologies,” said Horowitz. “In accepting my first Board appointment, I now have the opportunity to help guide Wordnik, a company that started with an incredibly innovative word navigation system, as it continues to offer deeper access to discovery and meaning across digital text. I know it will be a very rewarding experience.”

“Wordnik has changed the way consumers discover and interact with words by providing the most relevant context and meaning available anywhere,” said Joe Hyrkin, CEO of Wordnik. “With this investment from our longtime VC partners and strengthened by the addition of Bradley Horowitz to our board, we enter an exciting new phase for the company, building out our core technology and creating new leveraged offerings for a wide variety of content and commerce partners. Bradley brings us both great product insight and industry expertise, and will work with our founders, Erin McKean and Tony Tam, on future innovation.”

Wordnik was launched in 2008 with the mission to help people unlock the value of words and phrases and to discover what information is most personally meaningful. Wordnik’s technology provides additional access to content and context from a wide range of sources including the world’s most respected dictionaries, Wordnik users, and from unexpected places like Twitter and Flickr.

“Wordnik.com has offered consumers an easy way to gain more meaning and deeper context around words – kind of like a ‘GPS for words,’” said Jon Feiber of Mohr Davidow Ventures. “The next frontier for Wordnik is to bring the power of Wordnik to a wide range of publishers and other content providers by providing the most relevant discovery experience for their users. We think Wordnik will quickly establish itself as a valuable asset to its business partners, in addition to its continuing as an exceptional consumer site.”

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