DataSphere Raises $10M For Hyper-Local News Platform


DataSphere Technologies, which has developed a hyper-local news and advertising software platform for publishers, today announced that it has closed a $10-million Series C financing round led by OVP Venture Partners and will be using the funds to expand its operations into more local communities. The company was previously financed by Ignition Partners and Fisher Communications, and has now raised a total of $26.5 million since it was founded in 2006.

DataSphere, which used to be known as SecondSpace, has a network of over 750 neighborhood websites that carry local news and information, both from community residents and from journalists who work for its media partners: a group that includes Gannett Co. (s gci), Raycom Media, LocalTV LLC, Fisher Communications (s FSCI) and Hubbard Broadcasting. DataSphere launched 10 local sites running on its platform with Gannett’s TV arm in June.

Based in Bellevue, Wash., the company provides all the software to run local sites for new companies, and also handles local advertising sales, which is a critical element for many publishers. It functions as a plug and play Software-as-a-Service platform for newspapers and TV stations that want to set up neighborhood news sites. DataSphere handles the design and management of the site, the search-engine optimization, the content management, and has an analytics suite that allows publishers to see how their content is doing in terms of engagement.

DataSphere president and CEO Satbir Khanuja, a former vice-president at Amazon (s amzn), says the company has launched over 300 neighborhood news websites in the past two months, and by the end of the year, it expects to be in more than 1,200 communities. The network currently provides neighborhood news to 40 percent of the population of the U.S., Khanuja said, and reached over 12 million unique visitors across its advertising network in August. The company said it hired 150 new employees last month and expects to hire another 150 by the end of the year.

DataSphere and its publisher partners could soon run into a giant competitor on the hyper-local scene, if they haven’t already: AOL (s aol) has committed to an ambitious expansion for its local network — the company recently launched its 100th site, and said that it plans to hire more than 500 local journalists and open neighborhood sites in 500 communities in more than 20 states by the end of the year. AOL has said that it expects to spend $50 million on Patch this year. Other services going after the hyper-local news and advertising market include and Topix, which is owned by a group of publishers including Gannett, Tribune and Knight-Ridder.

Related content from GigaOM Pro (sub req’d): Developers, Meet Your Hungry New Market: The News

Post and thumbnail photos courtesy of Flickr user Dawn Endico


Brian Sharwood

There are a bunch of these projects around, and I have to say, I’m skeptical. I write a hyper-local blog for the Ossington neighbourhood and it’s a labour of love. Like most bloggers I do it for the enjoyment of doing it. I could sell local advertising on the sidebars, but the audience for what I’m doing is small, and the more crowded and confusing the site gets, the less value to the user. When it’s made into a business that intends to get back their $10M investment 10 fold in a number of years (because that’s what these investors want) you lose the support of the local bloggers.
It’s also hard to find local bloggers to do this kind of thing. Yes, there are lots of local journalists, but when I wrote an article a few weeks ago on getting involved in your community I tried to find other local Toronto bloggers and there were only 1-2 other active community (meaning neighbourhood community) bloggers that I could find.
So this is interesting, and something I might try. But for me WordPress is doing a great job for what I need.

david thibodeux

telemarketers heather peterson called me from a washington number and is offering adveritsing pakage from datasphere
of 149 per month exclusivity is this service also yalls
or am i getting ripped off as we speak, i checked with the bbb and yall arent members this is in baton rouge louisiana at wafb tv station channel 9

Len Williams

DataSphere is, in my opinion, a good online platform and it provides high-quality tools for managing websites. They’ve expanded considerably since the beginning of the year and they’ve been creating jobs. 70 employees in January, over 200 in August. With the new funds they’ll keep expanding and creating more jobs. Which is great.


Every time I hear about AOL being a “competitor” in the hyperlocal marketplace, all it is followed up with is the fact that AOL WILL spend $50M this year and WILL hire 500 “local” journalists. Nothing about content, nothing about delivery methods. This is actually the exact same thing that was being said about AOL the LAST TIME DataSphere raised $10M. So far I’m not impressed with what AOL’s interpretation of “competition.”

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