DataSphere — a startup which helps media companies set up hyperlocal sites and monetize them — has raised $10.8 million in funding. CEO Satbir Khanuja tells us the new cash comes from existing investor Ignition Partners, along with two unnamed strategic investors.
DataSphere partners with news companies that want to set up hyperlocal sites; the startup provides a technology platform, along with a local ad sales force — and splits the ad revenue. Customers include Fisher Communications, which partnered with DataSphere to launch 82 hyperlocal web sites linked to TV stations the company owns in Portland, Eugene, and Seattle, as well as TV station owner Cowles California Media, which embarked on a similar strategy, setting up 40 hyperlocal sites in Monterey and Santa Barbara. Khanuja says the company will announce additional partnerships in the next several months.
Khanuja says the company’s offering is popular because media companies do not need to “build (hyperlocal) content from scratch.” Instead, the DataSphere platform repackages existing content on the media site based on the specific neighborhood where the news takes place. In Seattle, for instance, visitors to the website of Fisher-owned TV station KOMO News are greeted with a module where they are asked to specify what neighborhood they live in; users then see a list of headlines corresponding to that location, as well as a link to the neighborhood site.
DataSphere started out by offering a platform for real estate websites; it also owns two real estate listing sites of its own, LandWatch and ResortScape. Khanuja says that business has been “growing extremely well.”