Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

NewsCred Raises $4 Million for Its Web-Based Newswire

Problem: You own a Web site and would like to fill it up with some nice-looking newsy content, but you don’t want to pay people like me to make it. NewsCred wants to provide the answer: It syndicates news stories from outlets like the Guardian, the Los Angeles Times and Forbes, and places them on sites around the world.

The New York-based start-up has been at this in various incarnations since 2009, but CEO Shafqat Islam says he’s getting some traction, and is able to charge Web publishers $3,000 to $5,000 a month per “vertical” for access to his (borrowed) content. He says he’ll do $1 million in revenue this year; last month, Islam raised a $4 million Series A round led by First Mark, along with Lerer Ventures, AOL Ventures and Shari Redstone’s Advancit Capital.

Content syndicators aren’t a new idea, by any means, and NewsCred’s basic pitch sounds quite similar to Mochilla, which has raised a pile of money. Several folks are trying versions of this in video, including AOL’s 5min and U.K.-based Perform Group’s ePlayer. And Demand Media has tried putting its super-low-cost freelancers to work for publishers including USA Today.

NewsCred’s basic pitch seems to be that it has a better selection of blue-chip content makers, all of which are getting guaranteed payments for their stuff. Islam pitches his product as a disruptor out to take on the likes of the Associated Press, but he also syndicates content from Reuters and Bloomberg, also giant newswires. So presumably they don’t feel threatened quite yet.

Here’s an interview I conducted with Islam earlier this week, featuring a cameo from Pat the Contractor (NewsCred is in the process of moving into its own place, after graduating from start-up launcher General Assembly).

(Side note: To get a sense of how difficult it is to hammer out some of these content deals, or just get a foot in the door, see this email exchange between Islam and an executive at Dow Jones, which, like this Web site, is owned by News Corp.)

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