You’ve almost certainly heard by now that NewsGator Technologies has taken on venture funding from Mobius Venture Capital. I haven’t had a chance to comment about this until now, but there’s quite a bit I want to talk about.
First, to the folks that sent their congratulations, thanks!
Brad Feld, from Mobius, has written a great post describing why they made the investment. Brad and I have been working together on this for a couple of months now, and he’s right on the money in what he says. Go there, and read it now. I’ll wait.
NewsGator for Outlook was our first product, and many of you have been with us from day one. It’s been a great product – tight integration into Outlook, a great story for businesses wanting to leverage RSS, and an amazingly supportive and enthusiastic user base.
Almost exactly one year later, NewsGator Online Services was launched with a number of exciting capabilities. Synchronization between multiple machines running NewsGator for Outlook. NewsGator editions for web browsers, mobile phones, and email clients besides Outlook. Custom search feeds and premium licensed content rounded out the initial services. Media Center support followed a couple of months later. The motto “The content you want. Any time. Any place. Any device.” was a primary driving factor for NGOS, and we’ve been delivering on that ever since.
If there’s a downfall with NGOS, however, it’s been getting the word out about it. We’ve done a good job marketing NewsGator for Outlook, to the point that the brand is widely recognized as a great Outlook product. However, we haven’t yet done a great job of getting the word out about NGOS, and what its capabilities are – especially for the non-Outlook market. We have lots of satisfied customers with the online products, but it’s not yet a “household name”. We’ve been working on this, and we’re getting a bit better…and more changes are underway to further move this along.
The reason I bring all this up is for all the folks who wrote about this, asking “why would Mobius fund an Outlook add-in?” or “Won’t Microsoft build one of these?” or something similar. As Brad said, what we’re doing goes far beyond the Outlook client – to the NGOS capabilities, and some other cool things we’re working on. That said, the Outlook client remains a key part of our strategy, and it will only get better and better.
So this all begs the question that has been subtly and not-so-subtly asked: why outside funding, and why now? NewsGator has been profitable, and doing fine up to now, with several employees and many contractors. So what were we thinking?
As the plan and vision for the products has taken shape, a number of very cool ideas have arisen. Many of these are based on feedback we get from customers, and others are based on feedback from folks who don’t use our products. We’re excited about this stuff – you can see it in our emails, hear it in our voices, and wonder about it when we’re all still online at 11pm. :-)
There are a number of things driving the development schedule. For maximum impact of what we’re working on, we need to do many things simultaneously; and to do that, we need more resources. We could have done all of this without any outside funding, but it would have taken longer. Much longer. And by the time we finished, the market might have been a different place. So we made the decision to accept an investment, and I feel fortunate to have Brad as a partner moving forward.
So there it is. I have lots more to say, but I’m a little afraid I’ll never have time to finish this post if I keep going. :-)
To our existing customers, I’d like to say thank you – you’re the ones that got us to where we are today, and we won’t forget that.
And finally, to anyone who is afraid we’ll take a turn for the worse as we ramp up in size…I don’t think it will be that way at all. But if you see something we’re doing that you don’t like, or you feel like we’re not being fair to our customers, then call us on it. Send me a note. I might not always agree with you, but I promise I will read it.