Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

Exclusive: Flipboard Raises $50 Million More on $800 Million Valuation


According to sources close to the situation, Flipboard has raised $50 million in new funding, in a round led by Rizvi Traverse Management and Goldman Sachs.

The new funding puts the valuation of the Silicon Valley startup that makes the popular social reading service at $800 million, said sources.

Flipboard declined to comment on any recent fundraising, which I have been tracking for some time, after I heard that big private equity firms were sniffing around the deal. Rizvi, a multibillion-dollar investment fund which is run by under-the-radar Suhail Rizvi, has investments in Twitter, Facebook and, most recently, Square.

In addition, sources said, current investors, including venture firms Kleiner Perkins and Index Ventures, are also participating, while Insight Venture Partners is taking an even larger stake in Flipboard.

Flipboard’s last round of funding was in mid-2011, when it raised $50 million at a $200 million valuation. That came after a $10.5 million initial round.

Co-founded by longtime entrepreneur Mike McCue and former Apple iPhone engineer Evan Doll in 2010, Flipboard has been attempting to make online content consumption more accessible and, perhaps most importantly, visually arresting, via its rich app. It pulls information from media feeds and social sites, such as Twitter and Facebook data streams, and then reassembles it in an easy-to-navigate, personalized format in a mobile — and now a desktop — touchscreen environment.

Over the last several years, Flipboard has evolved quickly to add more features, such as a recent one that allows users and publishers to create their own online “magazines” of favorite content. McCue recently said that three million such magazines have been created.

For example, Random House said last week that it will be making two such custom digital magazines for fans of the writers George R.R. Martin and Margaret Atwood, his on his popular “Song of Ice and Fire” books, and hers on her new novel, “MaddAdam.”

After starting on the Apple iOS platform, Flipboard has also created apps for more devices, and also for the Google Android mobile operating system. It is likely to also develop an app for Microsoft’s Windows Phone.

Flipboard has a myriad of competitors, including Google’s Currents, as well as smaller mostly media-focused reading apps like Zite, Circa and others.

But Flipboard is the most high-profile and popular, with McCue saying recently that it has 85 million users. Its revenue is derived from advertising splits with publishers for ads it places on Flipboard pages, although it is not clear how lucrative that business is as yet.

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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald