Thanks to popular websites like Digg, Propeller (rebranded from Netscape in September) and Reddit, the idea of crowd-sourced, user submitted, news sites have become a staple of the “Web 2.0” Internet-era. Mixx, a later entrant to the market that launched in October, has reportedly just closed a $2m financing led by prior investor Intersouth Partners.
It’s unclear if the round is formally a Series B or an extension of their prior A round financing.
Mixx is based out of Maclean, Virginia. It was founded by Chris McGill, the former General Manager of Yahoo News and former VP of Strategy for USA Today. They initially raised $1.5m from Intersouth. A small equity investment was also sold to the LA Times as part of a larger syndication and partnership struck in early December.
Like Digg and equivalent sites, Mixx is built entirely around users submitting links to web content and then voting on those links that they appreciate. This voting process, and a supporting computer algorithm, determines the display status of the article; the more popular an article, the more prominent its display.
This concept of crowd-sourced news has met with a mix of opinions. Some love the democratic nature of the process while others lament that it is in fact not democratic at all; they charge that a few voices, so called super-users, can often have a disproportionate impact on story placement. Others also complain that the lack of editorial control creates such inconsistencies in the quality of content offered that, as a news source, the sites become unreliable and overwhelming. There’s simply too much volume across too broad a swath. To that end: a quick look at Digg shows titles on the front page ranging from recession related finance news to posts about a man dying in a cake eating contest or a picture of comedian Ben Stiller oddly titled “Why is Ben Stiller is the man?”
Mixx is trying to distinguish itself by providing more personalization features and is more open with users (sites like Digg operate largely as a black box. They disclose little about how their sites prioritization algorithm works.)
One example of Mixx’ customization efforts is a recently launched feature that allows those submitting articles to distinguish their submission from similar content that might have been previously submitted with a link to another site or for an article on the same topic but written from another perspective.
For now, Mixx remains relatively small in its usage footprint. How effective their features will be at addressing some of the flaws attributed to Social News Aggregators won’t really be measurable until such time that they draw a larger audience.
Some portion of the new financing will likely go toward marketing efforts aimed at increasing audience scale.
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