We’re announcing NewsWhip’s biggest fundraise yet – a $6.4 million Series A round. NewsWhip’s CEO Paul Quigley outlines what’s involved.
Today, we’re announcing that NewsWhip has raised a $6.4m Series A round of investment.
I’d like to tell NewsWhip’s community and friends about why we’ve raised these funds and what we’re planning to do with them. Then I’d like to introduce some of our fantastic backers, and say thank you to some important people.
Closing our biggest fundraise to date is a good opportunity to stand back and look at why NewsWhip exists – and why we can help create a better, smarter media environment.
Today, most content creators – journalists, marketers, others who tell stories – create content with very little advance idea of what will succeed in engaging audiences. Since the first newsroom, editors have relied on their instincts and experience to pick stories – their hunches.
Editors sometimes got it wrong, publishing stories no-one read, or publishing stories that could be interesting but appeared at the wrong time, in the wrong place, with the wrong headline or format.
Similarly, the history of advertising contains more bad ideas than good ones. Captive audiences with limited media channels couldn’t object. Think of the terrible TV advertisements you sat through as a kid, waiting for the cartoons to come back on – on one of the half dozen available TV stations.
Today, media consumers are no longer captive. They can access infinite media channels via websites, Twitter or Facebook. Media brands can’t presume their audience will stick around – they must earn their position, and understand their audience. Perhaps a great time to be a media consumer – but a tougher time to be a creator.
There’s an upside to this new era. Today’s media consumers are creating exponentially more data than ever before. For the first time in human history, we can collect really granular signals on what works for reaching eyes – and the hearts – of audiences. For those open to learning, this can become a golden era of audience understanding and engagement. What do people really want? In news, in longform journalism, in headlines, in video, in hard business news, in celebrity coverage?
That’s where NewsWhip came in. We launched Spike in 2012 to start signalling trending news stories, and gave editors and other creators real time data on the content and themes working with audiences globally.
A few billion stories and hundreds of happy clients later, we have a fantastic suite of tools – and dataset – to help understand what an editor or journalist should do next.
NewsWhip Analytics can show editors whether a new strategy or vertical is likely to work before they even create it. It can identify the right writers, format, headline length and time to publish.
In parallel, Spike has evolved from its simple roots, and now monitors over 5 million new stories and pieces of content per day. It can show stories likely to draw audience engagement in any topic in 60 languages, at any time. It provides early signals of viral content on the web, YouTube, Facebook, or Twitter – and serves those signals to people who need to know. It even predicts the eventual viral reach of stories within minutes of publication. It is by far the world’s fastest technology for identifying content trends.
Spike and Analytics both deliver something we call Content Intelligence – data that supports editors, journalists and others who wish to tell stories that engage audiences. With Content Intelligence, we aim to eliminate the guesswork in developing strategy – and the donkey work in finding ideas.
We’re supplying the world’s media leaders and brands with this intelligence, and changing how they work. We believe that we’re the leaders in a new field, one that’s so new it’s still not fully understood by analysts and industry experts. It’s not social listening, audience research or media monitoring. It’s something new and – for us – very exciting.
With a Series A in place, we have the capital for developing the full Content Intelligence suite that tomorrow’s storytellers will need. This requires an integrated, smart set of tools built around our customers’ workflows – the workflows they have today, and the workflows of tomorrow. NewsWhip’s platform should intelligently mould around our users, suggesting, nudging and providing data as required to support any editorial decision – allocating resources or picking a headline. Finding white space, audience micro-trends, and unexpected opportunities.
In addition to our core tools, we have found other important outlets for Content Intelligence. With the Associated Press, we developed a Syndication product to track which stories are being used and engaged with across the web. We’re honored to assist an organization that is part of the backbone of quality journalism around the world. Through our fast evolving API we now supports a huge range of apps and in-house dashboards. In future, our APIs will push our data through to customers in formats and interfaces we can’t yet imagine.
We won’t run through our whole product roadmap here, but we ask you to watch this space as we ship some transformative products this year and next.
One aspect we love about this fundraise is who we’re doing it with.
First – our leads, Tribal. Tribal put a roof over NewsWhip’s head way back in January 2014, inviting us to take over the attic of their HQ on Dublin’s South William Street. Over the following years Tribal became friends, advisors, and eventually, investors. Conor, Barry and Tadhg have watched us grow from 8 to 50 people and from almost no revenue to customers in 40 countries and millions in revenue. Tribal have backed some of the smartest Irish SaaS companies and have some of the best “pattern recognition” in the VC business. We’re thrilled to have Tribal founder Conor join our Board as part of this fundraise.
We also received Series A investment from the Associated Press. The AP have already been investors, advisors, and partners in product development, so we are grateful for this additional vote of confidence from a key ally.
The Dublin team of Cantor Fitzgerald have played a huge part in this fundraise, with clients coming aboard as NewsWhip investors. We found some real kindred spirits in the Cantor team and we look forward to a strong relationship with them in the coming years.
We also welcomed follow on investment from the great team at Social Starts, our friends at Matter.vc, and from several of our early angel investors. We were also honoured to receive backing from The Asahi Shimbun, a leading Japanese publisher. We look forward to working with Asahi over the coming years.
We’re grateful too to the platforms that work with us to make this data available to news media: the great platform, media and journalism teams at Facebook, and partners and friends at Google, YouTube, Twitter and other key platforms where the new media world is playing out.
A Thank You
Finally, this is a chance to give a thank you to the NewsWhip team.
Thanks to our counsel, Sanaea, who smoothly guided the fundraise to completion, and our finance director Gio, who created and sharpened our financial plans and business understanding. Thanks to the team members who helped out with investor demos, data gathering and product research. And a thank you to our lawyers at Maples, because no-one ever thanks the lawyers, and they did fine work.
One of the real pleasures of building a company is you get to pick who you work with. From day one, we’ve hired smart, compassionate and committed people who have brought tremendous success to the company. Andrew and I are massively grateful to the NewsWhip team each day for who they are and for spending their time and energy building this fascinating business we build each day.
Now at 50+ people, they are solving problems across the business faster than I can keep track of. Our work is hard, but our team is brilliant.
I can’t wait to see what we do next.
– Paul Quigley, NewsWhip CEO and co-founder