Disqus Gets VC Funding, Releases Beta 2

19 Comments

Disqus, a startup developing a next-generation blog commenting system, has raised $500,000 in fresh funding in a round led by New York City-based VC Fred Wilson (Union Square Ventures), along with well-known angel investors Naval Ravikant, Howard Lindzon and ex-Googler Aydin Senkut.

The company is one of the many players in the “Comments 2.0” space and competes for attention with SezWho, Intense Debate, coComments and Tangler. (How these startups will eventually turn their ideas and concepts into a business is the big question, and one that’s unlikely to be answered until they get mainstream traction.)

Daniel Ha and Jason Yan started the company last year; I have stayed in touch with them since the very beginning. They also released an upgraded version of their system today, as noted in this blog post. There are 4,000 blogs (and newspapers such as The Harvard Crimson) and nearly 60,000 commenters using the Disqus system. Dave Winer is using Disqus on his blog, which says a lot about their approach to commenting. (How Disqus stacks up against the competition!)


I have often said that the real value of blogs lies in the intelligence embedded in the comments. The quality of the conversation is the ultimate barometer of the success of a blog, especially when measured using the currently fashionable engagement barometer. What is frustrating is that many of these smart conversations are lost in the overly simplistic commenting systems that come with the popular blogging platforms, including our platform of choice, WordPress.com.

In other words, I have been looking for ways to unlock this intelligence and promote it to my audience. And that’s why I’ve been fascinated by the startups that are trying to reinvent the commenting space. Unfortunately, none of them deliver what I really want.

Some offer a ranking system, others offer better discussion forums, but importantly, none are tightly integrated with my existing blog system. I want to turn intelligent comments into posts themselves, highlighting the efforts put forth by the commenters and thus making the blog truly collaborative. I know sooner or later someone will get there and come up with my perfect blog enhancements.

Related Posts:

* SezWho Offers Portable Reputations.
* Tangler, a better forum

19 Comments

Daniel Ha

Credit counseling,

1) I don’t think JS-Kit and Disqus are even similar services (I haven’t seen JS-Kit comments used for building/linking communities. I don’t think it’s possible nor its purpose. Correct me if I’m wrong.)
2) We serve plenty more than 20 million impressions.
3) You are counting your entire arsenal of widgets, only one of which relates to commenting.
4) None of the major metrics indicate your monstrosity :) (compete, alexa, quantcast). Can you show me something?

Just wanted to clarify. :)

Credit counseling

I’m surprised that you failed to include the clear market leader in your assessment. Each day, JS-Kit serves some 20 million impressions to many millions of unique users interacting on over 60k sites. We’re larger than these three combined!

Andy Beard

Fred maybe your stats are different from every blog I currently publish, but in most cases the landing page is the permalink for the blog post, and a percentage of traffic then clicks through to either another permalink page (if you have some kind of related links or featured content) or will click through to a home page.

Of course if they click an internal link at all…

Disqus is a great investment because it could easily slot in to replace the comment system on Blogger that Google seem intent to just kill off.

But then again so could Haloscan which people have been using for 2 years… but the bloggers lose ownership of their comments, and it becomes a pig to migrate to another blogging platform with a useful comment system.

Disqus is pretty safe from spammers, who is going to go to the trouble of working out how to spam 4000 blogs?

Jitendra

Om,

SezWho is not a comment replacement system or a destination site and as such the graph with compete stats is completely misleading…Instead SezWho provide a context, rating and reputation service that leave the content and traffic at the site where it belongs.

For Disqus to be showing this graph demonstrates a complete lack of humility and understanding of community dynamics. They are showing that they are doing a great job of driving traffic away from the sites where are are supposed to he helping build community…I am not sure it really is something a service that provides community building tools should be showing.

SezWho does not drive page views away from the site every time there is a profile view or take away page rank/SEO juice away from a site. And we thik that is better way to build communities.

Jitendra (SezWho)

fred wilson

Om

you’ve just expressed the killer app of comments

“want to turn intelligent comments into posts themselves, highlighting the efforts put forth by the commenters and thus making the blog truly collaborative.”

when a comment someone leaves here get to be the top post on techmeme, then we will have solved the problem.

i am betting on disqus to lead us there, but honestly if js-kit, sezwho, or intense debate gets us there instead, that will be fine with me too.

as I said in my post on disqus today, the comments on my blog are so damn good that it’s a shame they are stuck behind a comment link too few people click on.

fred

Indus

Om,

At a high level, a good commenting system may have these 3:

  1. Spam management
  2. Managing the content itself (approve/disapprove, alerts, etc.)
  3. Visualization/Analytics (Who? How frequent? From where? connections?)

A lot is done on #1 and #2 but we still have to see a lot on #3. I would love to see the same visualization on people and their content –very similar to what we see on pure web data. There are a few WordPress plugins which do a bit of visualization but the field at large is still green.

my 2 cents…

Eric

I’m surprised that you failed to include the clear market leader in your assessment. Each day, JS-Kit serves some 20 million impressions to many millions of unique users interacting on over 60k sites. We’re larger than these three combined!

In addition to Comments, JS-Kit offers Ratings, Navigator, Reviews and Polls and we have much more in the works, including a user profile that will immediately blow away what’s currently available and a binary (up/down) alternative to 5-star ratings. As Indus points out, the Compete data is misleading since, like SezWho, we don’t compete for eyeballs on js-kit.com.

oh… and congrats to Disqus!

Eric
eric at js-kit.com

Om Malik

@ Indus,

Good points you make. That said, we should talk about your ideal commenting system. Why don’t you kick it off and we can take it from there. Thanks in advance for jump starting the conversation.

Best

Indus

The graph is misleading. Unlike Disqus, Sezwho does not host your comments and is not a destination site. It also does not compete with the site’s traffic. Sezwho is a context rating and reputation layer between the blog and your comments and not a comment replacement system.

Since the comment data stays in its original platform (WordPress, MT, etc.), SezWho does not generate any new traffic for itself. Instead, the cross-linkage between various blog posts gets increased click thrus without touching SezWho.

More and more, the blog posts and the comments are becoming increasingly important — giving it away or letting someone else benefit (read, PageRank, SEO, etc.) from it does not make an iota of sense.

I still don’t understand why would someone use disqus when gurus behind WordPress, MT, etc. have a very solid commenting system!

My 2 cents, would love to see some “discussion” around it.

Mat Spencer

Great news – would also be great to be able to use Disqus here, Om!

howard Lindzon

thanks OM. I believe Disqus is closest to perfect blog comments and you will likely see very soon your wish for turning intelligent comments into posts themselves. fred and I talk about it all the time and they are on it.

stay tuned

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