Newser, the news aggregation site founded by Patrick Spain and professional media provocateur Michael Wolff, has raised $2.5 million in its first official round of funding, we have learned and confirmed from the company. The new investment is from a slew of individual investors, most of whom were involved with Spain’s previous two companies, HighBeam Research (which he sold to Gale late last year) and Hoover’s. The site was spun off HighBeam in late 2007, and had taken an undisclosed amount of seed funding prior to this round.
Newser has tried to a take very visual and quick-scan route to news aggregation, something that some of the other competitors in a heavily-competitive space have adopted since the site launched. It now has about 2 million visitors a month, Spain told me, which is still small compared to some of the biggies like *Yahoo* News, *Google* News and others which have a huge traffic funnel to start. The company has a staff of about 19 people, including contractors, and is close to break even, according to Spain.
It has primarily been using ad networks on the site, but Spain claims they have a “special sauce” to goose out better RPMs than other equivalent sites. What’s also helped is Wolff’s propensity to stay in the news himself, and, of course, his newspapers-are-dead (read New York Times) doomsday scenarios on the media industry. The long-term viability of such a consumer-focused-ad-supported model is still to be borne out, but Newser is working on some white-label deals, Spain says, including a big one he expects to announce soon.