While venture capital is said to be very expensive these days, hard to obtain, and with questionable potential returns given a closed market for public offerings and multiples for mergers and acquisitions, companies on the periphery of blogging appear to still be hot. We saw Auttomatic acquire Intense Debate late last year. You also remember strong funding rounds for my personal favorites, Lijit and Disqus, who are adding strong search and commenting functionality to sites like mine. Now, you can add Outbrain to the list, following this morning's announcement the company scored a $12 million round to expand its blog rating and recommendation platform.
Now, before you cry foul and ask where the money is in such a little widget, as is tempting, you can read between the lines in today's release to see that Outbrain has bigger plans - ones they no doubt shared with their VC partners, and not necessarily with me.
Outbrain is talking less about a widget, and more about finding great content across the Web. As one VC partner said, "Finding great content is getting both more difficult and more important... Outbrain's personalized recommended links offer great value to readers by combining their collective wisdom..."
If you think about it, Lijit and Outbrain are solving similar issues, from different angles. Lijit scours your personal blog and your social network of approved sites to find content you are searching for. Outbrain analyzes your individual posts, your previous blog entries and other blogs in their network to provide recommendations of what to read next. Both are useful, and both are getting traction. And it's good to see that good ideas are going to be rewarded, even when times are more difficult.