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Wiki Firm Wetpaint Raises A Big $25 Million Third Round

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Wiki publisher Wetpaint has raised a big $25 million third round led by DAG Ventures, an unspecified financial investor (Update: Kara reports that it’s Fidelity, which also invested in Slide’s bid round), and past backers Accel Partners, Trinity Ventures, and Frazier Technology Ventures. The Seattle-based company has previously raised about $15 million over two rounds, for a total of $40 million — it last raised $9.7 million in early ’07. In addition to a basic wiki service that can be used by individuals and groups, the company licenses its technology large brands and media firms, looking to add a dose of social media or user-gen to their sites. For example, Discovery uses it to power the official fan site of the popular show Mythbusters. The basic idea: Rather than having a show’s fans gossiping and chatting at unofficial third-party fan sites, why not offer them a platform at the official site?

A key component of the Wetpaint pitch is the SEO factor. Rather than engaging fans via widgets, the content that gets created resembles normal published content, giving the hosting sites an SEO boost. During a chat, CEO Ben Elowitz called out the competition on this: “The low value widget tool sets are not going to very far… folks are looking for what drives their business.” Also, whereas at one point the company might’ve been seen as a JotSpot competitor (since acquired by Google (NSDQ: GOOG), and turned into Google Sites), it’s now probably more analogous to Ning. Wetpaint is characterized using the (forgive this) wiki idiom, as opposed to the social networking one, but the end products are pretty similar.

I also asked him whether we should think of this round in the context of some other big late stagers we’ve seen, and whether the large raise had anything to do with girding for a possible recession. Elowitz denied that it was and said it was more about “having a ton of strategic flexibility”, adding: “I don’t think I’ve ever had to be worried about capital availability.”