Why I Like Our NewsGator Investment

Earlier today, NewsGator announced another round of investment from Mobius and the addition of Masthead Venture Partners. I’ve been very closely involved with the deal here at Masthead, working with partner Rich Levandov and the teams at NewsGator and Mobius in making it happen. Mobius’ Brad Feld outlined his reasons for his NewsGator investment in a post last year, and I wanted to share my own thoughts as well.

At the core of my opinion is the premise that RSS is fundamentally going to change the shape of the Internet. RSS is the protocol which is enabling its transformation from the Reference Web to the Incremental Web, as I’ve blogged previously. There are many companies emerging in this mushrooming space, but I think that NewsGator is in a unique position to create significant value for customers, partners, and investors. It may sound cliché, but I truly believe that the company’s strength comes down to two components: its visionary strategy and the team.

Visionary Strategy. Last June Brad blogged “the misperception is that NewsGator is only an Outlook plug-in.” That view has changed, and deservedly so. First, the company offers a synchronized platform for reading RSS feeds on a number of devices, including mobile and media center – not just in Outlook. And as NewsGator’s Executive Vice President Sandy Hamilton has explained, “we’ve been building and positioning the company over the past couple of months to take advantage of the burgeoning demand inside of the enterprise.” In step to that end, founder Greg Reinacker has outlined a strong product roadmap to take the company towards offering enterprises a full RSS solution. So while most other aggregator companies are strictly focusing on the consumer space, NewsGator is taking an approach to include both an enterprise solution and media platform in its offering. And with this investment, the company will have the resources to accomplish all facets of this plan. My opinion is that this comprehensive strategy is the right one to capitalize on the myriad of potential customers who can benefit from NewsGator’s technology.

Team. All start-ups need great people to execute on their visionary ideas. After meeting the team at NewsGator, I am confident that they are right people to do it. Brad Feld said, “I’m dealing with A+ folks.” He’s right. Founder & CTO Greg Reinacker is both extremely creative and energetic. CEO J.B. Holston is well-seasoned and experienced to lead. The rest of the team, including Sandy Hamilton and Mark Nass, are top-notch as well. Just one example of this strength is reflected in the fact that a number of them have fully embraced the blog movement, giving this next-generation start-up a genuine transparency.

The combination of these two factors gives NewsGator an advantage that most of the others in the broadly-defined “RSS space” do not. The company is well on its way to executing its vision. For example, Mobius’ Seth Levine points out, “developing strong partnerships with distribution partners (to drive their subscribers/readers to NewsGator’s platform) is a key part of the mix [in setting NewsGator apart].” NewsGator’s recently signed partner relationship with VNU, which will distribute the company’s consumer and business RSS services for seven countries throughout Europe, is just one of many partnership agreements to come. This is just one example of the significant tangible steps that NewsGator is making towards becoming a true success.

In short, I believe in the power of RSS, NewsGator’s vision to capitalize on its adoption & transformation, and the people it has doing it.

David Beisel

David Beisel is a co-founder and Partner at NextView Ventures. He has been focused on early stage Internet startups his entire career, both as an entrepreneur and venture capitalist. As an investor in the digital media space, David was most recently a Vice President at Venrock and previously a Principal at Masthead Venture Partners. Prior to becoming a venture capitalist, David co-founded Sombasa Media, an e-mail marketing company best known for its flagship product BargainDog. Sombasa was successfully acquired by About.com where David served as Vice President of Marketing. David holds an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business and an AB in Economics, magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa, from Duke University. He also founded and leads the Boston Innovators Group, an organization which holds quarterly entrepreneur events drawing a thousand attendees.

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