Peter Rojas and Ryan Block, who used to rule the world of gadget blogs at Gizmodo and Engadget, have raised $3.2 million in financing for what they see as the future of gadget reviews online: a site simply called gdgt — so hip and futuristic it apparently needs no vowels whatsoever — where users talk about and review gadgets they either want to buy or have already bought. The financing round, which closed last month, was led by Spark Capital and True Ventures (see disclosure below) and also included funding from Betaworks, AOL Ventures, Lerer Media Ventures and a number of private individuals, including Betaworks partner Ron Conway, John Josephson and Gillian Munson of Allen & Co., Jason Calacanis and SB Nation CEO Jim Bankoff.
Unlike traditional review sites, such as the ones that the founders used to work for, gdgt has no paid reviewers who hold forth on the benefits or flaws of new devices or leak product photos before they are launched. Instead, it has what Rojas and Block say are hundreds of thousands of registered users who come to the site to talk about and learn about the devices they want to buy, and to comment on products that others are interested in buying. When you set up a profile at the site, you are presented with three options: 1) say something, 2) ask a question and 3) get support. You can also set up a list of products you want to buy or have recently bought, so you can track conversations about them.
In many ways, gdgt feels like a more modern version of a site like Epinions (now owned by eBay), where buyers talk about and rate things they have purchased, or like an updated and enhanced version of Amazon user reviews. According to recent posts there by Block and Rojas, the site is trying to come up with ways to give users “reputation capital” in return for providing good content, and to highlight their contributions based on how much capital they have within the system. Rojas also told the Wall Street Journal that the company is looking at forming relationships with marketers and distributors of the kinds of products its members are looking to buy, so that they can be shown relevant content while they are browsing or using the site.
Disclosure: gdgt is backed by True Ventures, a venture capital firm that is an investor in the parent company of this blog, Giga Omni Media. Om Malik, founder of Giga Omni Media, is also a venture partner at True.
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