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Summary:

Me.dium, a company making a browser add-on that relates the webpages you are browsing to those being viewed by other people concurrently using the tool, today announced it had raised $15 million in a second round of funding, bringing its total amount of capital to $20 […]

Me.dium, a company making a browser add-on that relates the webpages you are browsing to those being viewed by other people concurrently using the tool, today announced it had raised $15 million in a second round of funding, bringing its total amount of capital to $20 million from Commonwealth Capital Ventures, Spark Capital, Appian Ventures, Brad Feld, and Elon Musk.

Really? $15 million? I didn’t realize it had taken off to a level to attract that kind of bet. Me.dium is something I tried out for an early review and ended up uninstalling a week or so later during a plug-in purge.

I called Me.dium co-founder David Mandell this morning to ask how many users the company has. He said it had just opened up its private beta a week ago, and has 20,000 registered users total. How many were active users, he couldn’t say (though he said he would try to follow up). The users tend to be pretty geeky, he said, because the plug-in is only available for Firefox (IE is coming “in the next couple weeks”) and the sign-up process was until recently not very accessible.

The funding, Mandell said, is to be put toward infrastructure costs — “managing and making recommendations based on the real-time activity of everyone online actually uses a lot of hardware and engineering” — and also consumer marketing in the fall.

I have to say, $15 million is a pretty big bet for a company that has not proved many people will use its tools. In this latest round of post-bubble-burst web funding, I thought it was users first, money later, but here that doesn’t seem to be the case.

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  1. Carlos Urreta Monday, June 11, 2007

    Finally, an real review of a much hyped program that is bound to fail. I’m in that same boat, or really giving it a try; I mean I even re-install it every 2 weeks or so to see if it catches on. Yup, it doesn’t.

    I like the potential of seeing what my friends are seeing, but me.dium needs to simplify in order to grab my attention for good.

  2. Duane Storey Monday, June 11, 2007

    I don’t think 15 million is that much, considering most VCs manage 100s of millions of dollars usually. It’s usually pretty difficult to obtain money of less than a few million unless it’s a private investment.

  3. Hey Liz.

    Thanks for the post. This is definitely a large funding for a company that has not launched yet. We know that, and we take it seriously.

    That being said, what we’re doing is not really something we can just launch without significant investment on the back-end. Imagine the largest MMOG, with effectively infinite players, and an effectively infinite landscape. That’s Me.dium.

    So I agree this is a large funding, but it’s the right level for what we’re trying to build.

    Thanks again for the post.

    Kimbal

  4. Aidan Henry Monday, June 11, 2007

    This sounds surprisingly similar to StumbleUpon in some ways – but in a more visual sense. It pulls together information from other users and outlines relationships between web pages…

    I haven’t tried it out yet, but I plan on doing so…

    Cheers,
    Aidan Henry

    http://www.MappingTheWeb.com

  5. now a skeptic Monday, June 11, 2007

    I’ve tried it repeatedly, for months now. I started out wanting to believe, but am now a skeptic. Seems to be a solution looking for a problem. Technology in the back-end may be impressive but on their blog I noted with amusement something about having hired a firm to help them determine the value they provide to end users. They’re trying really hard to discover/provide value, but it’s not working for me.

  6. Greg LaRouche Monday, June 11, 2007

    Any comments on the rumor of the possible buyout by US Department of Agriculture?

  7. I uninstalled it too. I didn’t find it useful. There was another app like that called Others Online which tanked a year or so ago. Frankly, I don’t really want to bump into people while I’m browsing – I have intent when I’m poking about and don’t really want to socialize. 15 million? Okay.

  8. Liz,

    thanks for getting the scoop and talking with co-founder David Mandell. I quoted you and your quotes a few times in my own analysis, the end of which I’ll add here:

    “Finally, I really don’t think what Me.dium is doing should be classified as “collaborative browsing”. The only collaboration Me.dium offers right now is a poorly implemented universal-chat room. Where are sharing features? Users can’t even tell which parts of a page other people are finding so interesting. How can we gather crowds to a site, and what can we really do once we get there?

    GigaOm quotes Mandell as saying the funding is for more infrastructure, because “managing and making recommendations based on the real-time activity of everyone online actually uses a lot of hardware and engineering”. Sounds like a massive scaling problem waiting to happen. Me.dium is better off taking the $15,000,000 and hiring some good product designers.”

    The rest can be found at http://socialstrategist.com/2007/06/11/occasional-links-medium-funding-photos-studies-and-patents

  9. I find it interesting how many people have uninstalled this application and automatically believe because they don’t find it useful that no one will. Do any of you have young teenagers, or about to be teenagers (I belive the term is tweens)? I find half the stuff they use to be ridiculous (to me). Even adults and their MySpace page obession is well beyond me. I have never seen the application so I can’t comment one way or another, but I do know that my experience/taste/needs are NOT universal. Especially not when it comes to being social online. I’m no expert but I expect this app is not aimed at my demographic.

  10. Techscape » Blog Archive » $15million investment makes a happy Me.dium Tuesday, June 12, 2007

    [...] Will it offer enough above established the web messengers to gain mainstream attention beyond its 20,000 registered users?  [...]

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