Blottr, the crowd-sourced (or citizen journalism) news service, has raised an additional £400,000 (~$612k) to help scale NewsPoint, its syndication platform that lets publishers/broadcaster purchase user-submited content to help power their web sites and news rooms. It brings the total raised by the London, UK-headquartered company to £1.4 million ($2.1m). This latest round was led by Kima Ventures, while existing investor Playfair Capital also participated.
Launched in late 2012, NewsPoint is described as a web-based platform to provide editors and newsrooms with “unique” footage (video, photographs and text), captured and reported in real-time by people on the ground — content that is provided by existing Blottr contributors. Subscribers to the paid-for service get between 3-10 new stories a day. It currently targets three categories of content: Middle East, Global News, and Breaking News; the latter gives a 1 hour head start before the same content begins showing up on the wider NewsPoint network.
The B2B expansion to Blottr’s otherwise consumer-facing offering goes some way to answering the question: what’s the business model for crowdsourced news? Founder Adam Baker is candid about the challenge that Blottr faced finding a revenue model that is sustainable beyond the limits of selling advertising alone.
In a statement he says: “Until late 2012 we had been focused on developing our authentication technology and global contributor network, which today uniquely differentiates us and provides significant competitive advantages. We made considerable noise and generated strong traffic numbers, yet like many startups, struggled to find the business model behind it”.
Eight weeks since launching, NewsPoint already claims mainstream media clients such as Channel 4, ITN, Fox News, and Sky News, helping NewsPoint syndicated content reach an audience of around 200m. Interestingly, however, for the time being at least, contributors don’t get a cut of any licensing fees, but this is something Blottr is said to be exploring.
Alongside its London HQ, Blottr has an office in New York and says it’s hiring in both locations for editorial and business development positions.