Spire Aspires to Greater Things with $9 Million Infusion

7/10/08Follow @wroush

Spire.com, the Boston-based social networking site for the affluent—not be confused with Bedford, MA-based photovoltaic equipment maker Spire Corporationsaid this week that it has raised $9 million in Series A venture financing, in a round led by Hearst Interactive Media, Trident Capital, TL Ventures and private investors.

The company, whose network is aimed at high-net-worth individuals but is open to all, said it has already used some of the funds to acquire London-based travel and lifestyle site Suzanne’s Files. The creator of Suzanne’s File’s, Suzanne Aaronson, co-founded Spire.com with CEO Janet Kraus, formerly of Circles, a Boston-based concierge service that helps companies arrange luxury experiences for their clients. Aaronson’s reviews of travel destinations and luxury products now appear as a separate section of Spire.com called the “S-Files.”

Spire.com says that its members have an average annual income of more than $250,000 and average assets above $1 million. Members use the free, advertising-supported site to share information about travel, restaurants, shopping, health, recreation, arts and culture, and the like. In that sense, the site is similar to another affinity-based social network based in Boston, Eons, which mainly targets people over 50.

It’s easy to imagine how the site might become a conduit for exclusive travel offers, sponsored content, and various other kinds of marketing aimed at affluent consumers—but so far, it’s unclear from Spire.com’s public materials whether the company’s business model extends beyond Web-based advertising.  For now, the company seems to be concentrating on adding more content to the site and growing its network of members. “With our financial resources now in place, we are poised to grow a dynamic social resource where these savvy people can connect, share and source anything and everything thats important to their worlds,” Kraus said in the company’s announcement about the funding round.

Wade Roush is a contributing editor at Xconomy. Follow @wroush

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