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.