Written by Jeremy Mims
You may have heard that we raised some more money (perhaps from All Things Digital, GigaOm, Venturebeat, Vator.tv, or Matt Mullenweg himself). But this wasn’t just any round. This is what we’ve been calling a Series Strategy (or a Texas-style Series Strategery). Every group or person in on this round has something important to contribute to the future of OwnLocal and we couldn’t be prouder to have them on board.
Meet some of our investor team. Who could ask for more?
500 Startups: Dave McClure (PayPal, Mint.com), Paul Singh (PBworks, Aol, Symantec), and their awesome team of mentors are now part of the family. Paul Singh will be coming on board as an OwnLocal advisor.
Automattic: Automattic builds WordPress which powers more than 11% of all websites on the Internet. OwnLocal is the first company Automattic has ever invested in. From Matt Mullenweg, creator of WordPress and Automattic: “Their approach is highly complementary to our own goals of making it easy for anyone in the world to have a beautiful Web site.”
Baseline Ventures: Baseline Ventures has invested in Twitter, Heroku, Instagram, StumbleUpon, FormSpring, and dozens of other awesome companies. Steve Anderson (eBay, Microsoft, Kleiner Perkins, Starbucks) is a valley legend.
The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation: OwnLocal is among the first ever for-profit companies to receive funding from the Knight Foundation. In fact, The Knight Enterprise Fund was created specifically for us and companies like us. Since Knight was founded by newspaper publishers and remains driven to help newspapers find ways to succeed, we couldn’t be more excited to have their assistance going forward.
Lerer Ventures: Lerer Ventures was started by Kenneth Lerer (Cofounder of The Huffington Post, Chairman of Betaworks) and Ben Lerer (Cofounder of Thrillist). They have been amazing to work with.
Justin Kitch: Justin was the founder of Homestead.com and sold it to Intuit in 2007. Needless to say, his fifteen years as CEO of a company that powered small business websites is right up our alley.
Paul Buchheit: Paul Buchheit is one of the leading visionaries of the web. While he was an early employee at Google, he created GMail, Adsense, and their motto “Don’t be evil.” His most recent company, Friendfeed, was sold to Facebook where their technology and leadership has transformed Facebook into the real-time powerhouse it is today.
Joshua Schachter: Josh Schachter founded del.icio.us, sold it to Yahoo, joined Google, and is now the CEO of Tasty Labs. He’s an incredible person and we’re incredibly lucky to have him.
Joshua Baer: Josh is part of our Austin contingent. We’ve raised money from the Valley and from New York, but we love to have people from our own community. We love Austin and we love the work that Josh is doing at Capital Factory.
Welcome aboard. It’s an exciting journey.
The Press Release:
OwnLocal, a turnkey digital agency service that helps local news organizations double their online revenues, today announced it has secured new capital funding to expand its service offerings and market reach. This latest round, led by WordPress developer Automattic, brings the total investment in OwnLocal to around $2 million raised in just the past 18 months.
In addition to follow-on funding from Baseline Ventures, OwnLocal is one of the first for-profit entities to receive early-stage capital from the newly-formed $10 million John S. and James L. Knight Foundation with the Knight Enterprise Fund for media innovation. The new round also includes one of the largest investments to date from 500 Startups; as part of the investment, Principal Paul Singh has joined OwnLocal as an advisor. Additional funding comes from Justin Kitch, founder of Homestead Technologies, which he sold to Intuit in 2007. Other angel investors contributed to the round through the AngelList network.
OwnLocal Founder and CEO Lloyd Armbrust said that perhaps equally as important as the funding is the caliber of expertise this latest round brings to the OwnLocal team.
“We’ve secured the expertise of some of the most experienced and successful small business and online experts who are on the cutting edge of digital media,” Armbrust said. “These guys really understand both the needs of our audience and the business strategy required to be successful.”
OwnLocal’s affordable, turnkey, white-label software tools and services are already helping newspapers and other local media outlets in 35 states generate an average of $60,000 in annualized online revenue within two weeks of launch. Its suite of products includes plug-and-play directory software, web builder, daily deals and print-to-web ad conversion software all designed to help traditional offline media outlets double their online income.
“OwnLocal allows even the smallest local media outlets and their advertisers to use online technologies to increase revenue,” said Ben Wirz, director of business consulting with Knight Foundation. “Backing innovation that helps news providers adapt to the digital age is a key goal for our new Knight Enterprise Fund.”
A Y Combinator alum, OwnLocal has already received early investments in 2010 from Lerer Ventures, Gmail creator Paul Buchheit, Delicious creator Joshua Schachter and Alex Moore, principal at Anduin Ventures.
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