Category Archives: newsgator

NewsGator closes new $12M financing

As you might have already read this morning (depending on whether my post makes it out first!), NewsGator has closed a $12M financing round, bringing our total capital raised to $30M.

As the founder, I thought it might be interesting to take a look at what we’ve accomplished, since that fateful day when I signed the series A paperwork. At that time, there were 2 full-time employees including me, NewsGator Inbox was called “NewsGator for Outlook” (wait, is NewsGator a company or a product?), and NewsGator Online was a subscription-only service (I like to think of it back then as the best kept secret in the industry).

And now? Yowsa. For starters, we’ve grown to about 75 amazing people, who have all really helped shape the company into what it is today (thanks guys!).

Our consumer product suite has grown, from not only NewsGator Inbox and NewsGator Online, but also with FeedDemon, NetNewsWire, Go! for both Windows Mobile and Backberries, and quite a few other point products. And they all communicate with each other via the sync system we’ve put in place via NewsGator Online’s back-end platform (which processes around 7 million new articles per day).

We developed NewsGator Enterprise Server, our enterprise-class server system for aggregating and distributing content within the enterprise. It also implements our sync system, so all of our popular desktop and mobile clients also work in the enterprise. The server also integrates very tightly with Microsoft SharePoint, via our NewsGator Social Sites product. RSS is really the underlying plumbing for enterprise 2.0 – and NGES leads the market in providing this infrastructure. And this technology is real – over 100 of the Fortune 2000 have implemented NGES, and they’re thinking of new ways to use it every day.

And on top of that, using our core online platform, we’ve built up a part of our business called Syndication Services, providing content-related services to third parties such as media companies. We’re one of the leading widget platforms on the web, providing widgets to media companies and others that live on just about any site (including, of course, OpenSocial sites), delivering hundreds of millions of widget views every month. And our commercial web service APIs service tens of millions of API requests every day.

Whew! That sounds like a lot, from humble beginnings. :-) But the bottom line is, we want our consumer applications to be as ubiquitous as possible, while we continue to sell our software and services to businesses…and this new round of capital helps us expand our market and solidify our leadership.

So what’s next? Well, that’s a topic for another post…but rest assured, we’re working on some pretty amazing stuff (if I do say so myself!), and we’ve got a lot of news coming up soon. Stay tuned!

NewsGator and SharePoint – see it in a webinar!

As you may have heard by now, we’re in beta with a product called NewsGator Social Sites that integrates NewsGator Enterprise Server very closely with Microsoft SharePoint. I’m going to blog about this quite a bit more in my upcoming product roadmap posts, but suffice it to say that the combination of these products makes an interesting Enterprise 2.0 application.

Anyway, I’m doing a webinar on Tuesday July 31, at 2:00pm EDT, with Rob Koplowitz of Forrester Research, and we’ll be showing actual product screenshots and talking quite a bit about Social Sites, and the combination of NGES and SharePoint.

You can see my fabulous mug :-) and sign up for the webinar here, if you’re so inclined!

Desktop RSS Readers are actually alive and thriving

Richard MacManus wrote an article on his blog called “Desktop RSS Readers Are (Nearly) Dead“, and went on to show some survey results and discuss some Feedburner data. But as the company who builds and sells the most popular desktop RSS clients in the world, I feel compelled to point out some flaws in his logic.

First, of his survey results, he says:

“Web-based Readers are up 7% and desktop Readers are down 6%.”

The real problem here, IMHO, was that users had to choose ONE option in the survey. I took the survey myself, and when faced with the question, I chose web-based reader…however, I had no way to indicate that I also use a desktop reader (FeedDemon) and a mobile reader (NewsGator Go!) quite often. I had to make a random choice between the three. In this world where people use multiple computers and devices, it’s hard to choose just one option.

And second, is this analysis of Feedburner data for Read/Write Web:

“…the top desktop RSS Reader in R/WW’s Feedburner stats is NetNewsWire. It’s ranked 12th overall, well behind Google Reader, Bloglines, Rojo and other browser-based Readers.”

This is also fatally flawed data. The most popular desktop clients (NetNewsWire on the Mac, and FeedDemon on Windows) will install by default in synchronized mode, which means they are getting their content from NewsGator Online, rather than directly from the source. When Feedburner reports statistics, it will NOT see any data at all for the desktop applications. The data is pulled into the NG/Online platform, and distributed through the NewsGator API’s to the clients…so Feedburner’s system is unaware of any of this.

Hope this clears things up. I think much of the the “drop” Richard is seeing in desktop client popularity is most likely due in large part to the way the new desktop clients retrieve data – and unfortunately that is very difficult to measure from the outside using tools like web log analysis or Feedburner.

NewsGator Syndication Services

It’s almost time for another NewsGator Platform Roadmap post (a couple more weeks), and I haven’t posted for a while so I have a lot of pent-up blog frustration. :-) Before I do the roadmap post, I’m going to make a series of posts describing how we are looking at the industry, our products, and some of our current thinking with respect to our different business areas. I have a lot of stuff coming up…but today, I want to talk about NewsGator’s Syndication Services, formerly called Private Label. There’s so much here, and things are changing so quickly, so I’d better get this out quick.

Core platform

The syndication services are built on top of NewsGator’s core online platform; this is the same platform that powers NewsGator Online, FeedDemon/NetNewsWire/Inbox/Go/other synchronization, and NewsGator Enterprise On-Demand. This is a significant beast – it has about 1.5 billion articles indexed, sees about 7 million new articles per day, sustains around 650 new articles per second at peak times during the day, and supports about 15 million API calls per day from customers and our own clients. It also collects usage metadata, which can be used to calculate relevance information (more on this another day).

Having such a core platform to build on helps ensure our syndication services are robust, scalable, and perform well. It also gives us the ability to deliver content very quickly after it’s been published – many publishers will ping this system when they publish new content, which leads to an overall distribution time of a few seconds. This core platform has also proven to be very fast and reliable, enabling us to provide aggressive service level agreements to our syndication services customers.

So that’s the platform, which is key to being able to offer the services that we do. There are really two external parts to the syndication services – these are data services, and widgets. Let me talk about them one at a time.

Data Services

The NewsGator Online API is used by our own clients (FeedDemon, NetNewsWire, Inbox, Go!, and others), as well as third-party rich clients. But a completely different use of the API is enabling third-party web sites to integrate our content and data into their own sites.

One example of this is USA Today – if you look at their section front pages, you’ll see an “across the web” section of the site. That entire section is powered by our API, using code that USA Today wrote for themselves.

We have other significant API Data Services customers whom I unfortunately can’t talk about publicly at the moment…but these are large publishers and related business, making millions of API calls per day, relying on our content, metadata, synchronization, and content/subscription management capabilities.


Widgets are the other half of the syndication services business. The widgets are generally falling into two categories, although there are certainly more use cases we’re running into:

1. Republishing third-party content on your own web site. An example – CBS News has a section of their site devoted to the Virginia Tech tragedy; however, they realized that many of the real stories of the tragedy and thereafter were not going to be written by CBS journalists, nor AP reporters – they were going to be written by regular people, on their blogs. They implemented a widget on the side of their site (see left side of the page) to pull this content into the site, and then made this widget available to their affiliates as well.

NewsGator provided the widget itself, as well as the critical back-end editorial tools for the CBS folks to use to filter and choose content they wanted to include in the widget.

Another great example is on the site (a Media General property) – scroll down to “What’s Hot, Headlines, Video” to see an example of such a widget in action (be sure to play a video!), integrated with the ad units that Media General wanted to use.

Some customers have referred to this capability as a “cheap and cheerful Associated Press” – indeed.

2. Syndicating your own content out to other sites. Here, media sites create a widget, use the editorial tools to get content into it, and make that widget available to other folks to put on their sites.

A good example here is Discovery – they have a widget containing news and blog posts from the Everest expedition, and initially put this widget on their Everest blog site…but with a few clicks, anyone can take this widget and add it to their own weblog (right side column, scroll down a bit), their Google page, or any of several other popular places.

This has been a fascinating business. The way our customers are implementing these capabilities is dramatically different than what they were doing just 12 months ago – and that’s a fun thing to watch. Tomorrow alone, I have meetings with two major publishers to talk about strategy and what they might be able to do – and the best part is, with the maturity of our platform, these things are usually quick and easy to try. Usually even the things we haven’t thought of yet. :-)

In a customer meeting the other day, someone said “wow, this is the future of media.” That’s a pretty big statement – but this is certainly a part of that future.

3-part RSS interview online

Way back in January, Rok Hrastnik over at The RSS Diary interviewed me for a book he was writing about RSS. I think we ended up chatting far longer than he expected :-), but in any case, he’s published the interview as a podcast in 3 parts.

Part 1 – How are Vista and IE changing the RSS landscape?
Part 2 – RSS for online media and branded readers
Part 3 – RSS in the enterprise

It was a while ago, and I haven’t listened to them all yet, so hopefully I didn’t say anything silly that I’ve since forgotten about!

As an aside, I totally hate hearing my phone voice when it’s played back to me. I mean, do I really sound like that?!? Apparently so – lol. :-)

Try the NewsGator Online Beta!

Whew! It’s been a long time in coming…but the new beta for NewsGator Online is now online and ready to try. We’ve been slowly trickling it out over the last couple of weeks, and a handful of people have been playing with it, with the feedback being universally positive.

But what is it? And why?

It’s an entirely new, ajax-based reading experience. Visually, it looks fairly similar to the “classic” reader…but it’s much faster, has a lot fewer page loads, and generally “feels” better when you’re using it.

It was built for two reasons. First, to make the reader faster. Hundreds of thousands of people use NewsGator Online every day, and we want to make that experience as fast, efficient, and enjoyable as possible. And second, it’s the first release of an extensible GUI platform, on top of which we’ll be building out lots of new features pretty quickly.

It’s a beta, though, and it’s actually an earlier beta than we typically release. There are some rough spots, so the usual beta caveats apply…it might get your dog sick, steal your girlfriend, and scratch your car. :-) But it’s evolving very quickly – so if you want to see what’s coming, definitely take a look!

Click here to try the beta. Bookmark that page – you can also use it to switch back and forth between the beta and classic readers.

And don’t be shy – let us know what you think!

NewsGator and the latest Feedburner Statistics

Feedburner recently published some “engagement” statistics about web-based RSS readers (including, for the first time, Google Reader), which basically show Google Reader having a huge market share, along with My Yahoo! and Bloglines. I wasn’t going to comment on this, but after reading some recent articles (including this one at TechCrunch, which had incorrect information about NewsGator for a while but appears to have been edited), I feel compelled to provide some more information.

The Feedburner data does not accurately reflect usage of NewsGator’s products – and I’m going to explain why that’s the case.

First – let there be no mistake. Feedburner’s “Audience Engagement (Views)” data does NOT count the number of times an article is viewed; it counts the number of times a hidden image (or other “bug”) associated with an article is downloaded by a reader. Two thing have to happen to register a “view” – the bug needs to be downloaded, and the retrieval of said bug needs to include a referrer that Feedburner recognizes. In the “typical” (i.e. typical web application) case, this will indeed measure number of article views. But in non-typical cases, it will not.

As you may know, NewsGator is a suite of products. NewsGator Online is one part of that suite, but a good deal of our popularity comes from our clients, including FeedDemon, Inbox, NetNewsWire, Go!, and others. We also have tons of users using our private label and enterprise products, but I’ll concentrate on the consumer segment for the moment.

So let me go through this and tell you where Feedburner’s “engagement” data will be picked up, and where it will not.

Feedburner data collected: NewsGator Online’s web reader in most viewing modes, mobile HTML reader in certain configurations

Feedburner data NOT collected: NewsGator Online’s web reader in some viewing modes, FeedDemon, Inbox, NetNewsWire, NewsGator Go! (all versions), mobile HTML reader in certain configurations, POP reader, and some other smaller applications.

Basically, FB is only counting ONE application out of a large suite of apps that all talk to each other. Many of our users use a desktop application as their primary reader, and use NewsGator Online occasionally when they’re away from their desk (and since these applications all sync together, this is completely seamless for them). This is really a testament to the power and popularity of using a rich desktop client. In any case, though, a huge number of our users and their interactions are not being counted.

Aside: NewsGator’s system also powers hundreds of thousands of users on our private label system, on sites such as USA Today, Denver Post, and Newsweek. These applications are also not counted in FB’s statistics. Ditto with our enterprise applications – hundreds of thousands of users not counted. But back to consumer, the focus of this post. :-)

Shortly before the FB report came out, Pheedo also published a market share report, based on subscriber count information. In THAT data, our clients (at least a portion of them, those operating in sync mode) would indeed be counted. That data shows us as the largest system in existence, by subscribers. In conjunction with the other data, this tells us that a LOT of people are using our multitude of client (and other) applications to consume content.

So sure, our web application might not rank all that high in “engagement” (as defined by Feedburner) – but that’s because a huge number of our users choose to use our highly compelling client applications such as FD, NNW, Inbox, etc. Those users also occasionally use our web application, but not typically as their primary reading experience.

So don’t believe everything you read – Feedburner’s new “engagement” stats only tell part of the story – and for sophisticated multi-application systems like NewsGator’s, systems that bridge the gap between the desktop and the web, they are very misleading.

And finally, a bit of news…within the next week or so, we’re going to release a new beta of NewsGator Online, which is dramatically faster and full of ajax-goodness (which helps a lot with that super-fast user experience). This is the platform upon which we will build the next generation, which I talked about back in June. So stay tuned – I’ll post more details about the beta as soon as it’s ready for you to use.

Red Sweater Software Acquires MarsEdit

I’m totally excited to tell you all that NewsGator has sold MarsEdit to Red Sweater Software. Daniel at red Sweater is a great guy, really enthusiastic about the product and its users, and is going to do an awesome job with it!

This all came about a while ago. We’ve got a LOT of products (if I actually made a list, you’d be blown away…maybe I should do that!), and some of them seem to get more care and feeding than others. MarsEdit was one of those great products that is just slightly outside our core focus…and thus got a little less attention than other products like NetNewsWire. We thought the best thing for our users and for us was to find a new home for MarsEdit – and Red Sweater is the perfect home!

So to Daniel, congratulations on your new product. I’m excited to see the upcoming new releases!

Daniel’s blog post
Q&A about the acquisition
Red Sweater’s press release
New MarsEdit product page