Despite a flurry of M&A in 2013 and rumors that Facebook will soon launch its own social news app, there are still a number of venture-backed upstarts vying to pull ahead of the competition in the crowded mobile news reader market. The latest, Inside.com, launched this week with the backing of Sequoia Capital.
Four of the notable venture-backed startups offering news curation apps organized by interests and/or social networks are Circa, Flipboard, Prismatic and Reverb. Flipboard is by far the most well-funded of the group, backed by more than $160M from investors including Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Index Ventures. Flipboard’s latest financing in December brought its valuation up to a rumored $800M, and in aggregate, the four startups have raised over $190M in venture capital as shown below.
To get a better understanding of how the venture-backed news readers are faring against one another well as other already exited news apps, we turned to recent rankings data we are collecting for over 1M apps in the iTunes App Store. And in just the past few months, there have been some interesting developments in the news reader app market:
- Prismatic‘s pivot from a social news reader to a “social network for your interests” on December 19, 2013 corresponded with a primary genre change in the App Store from News to Social Networking. And while the move resulted in a huge jump (from 500 in the News genre on Dec. 19 to 113 in the Social Networking genre on Dec. 20), Prismatic’s App Store ranking has since fallen off dramatically. The company’s last financing was in December 2012 so the success of this pivot will be important in determining its ability to raise follow-on financing.
- Baseline Ventures-backed Reverb debuted its app on Nov 20, 2013 and, after a slight fall off, has seen a steady top 100 rank in the News genre since the start of December and, in recent weeks, the top 20.
- With its wide financing advantage, Flipboard has consistently remained in the top 10 ranking for News apps and in the top 1000 overall App Store apps (bucking the trend of the avg. number of days an app typically stays in the Top 1000). Zite and Feedly, both acquired, are also holding strong with Flipboard in the rankings.
Will the launch of Facebook’s Flipboard competitor ‘Paper’ affect how private news reader apps perform in the App Store? We will continue to monitor the mobile app data for any noteworthy shifts in the news reader app market. If you’d like to to stay abreast of additional mobile app store analyses and fast moving publishers, sign up for our free newsletter.