Flipboard Pulls in $50 Million, Partners with Oprah

4/15/11Follow @wroush

It’s a big week for Flipboard, the Palo Alto, CA, company whose eponymous social news browsing application for the iPad is widely praised as a category-defining app for the new tablet era.

In an exclusive story given to Kara Swisher of AllThingsD, Flipboard said it has collected $50 million in new venture funding, mainly from Insight Venture Partners of New York. Comcast Interactive Capital also participated in the Series B round, according to Swisher’s report, along with previous Flipboard investors Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Index Ventures, the Chernin Group, angel investor Ron Conway, Square CEO Jack Dorsey, actor Ashton Kutcher, and Facebook co-founder and Asana Dustin Moskovitz.

At the same time, Flipboard is offering the first hint on how it may plan to monetize the free app. In a partnership with the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN), Flipboard has created a branded section of the app where OWN is promoting stories and videos from Oprah’s TV show, website, and magazine. While Flipboard has worked with other publications, such as AllThingsD, to offer streamlined channels and pages for their articles within the app, this is the first time the 32-employee startup has partnered with an outside content provider to build and brand an entire section. Financial details of the partnership weren’t disclosed.

Flipboard CEO and co-founder Mike McCue told Swisher that the company is also exploring advertising deals and premium subscription services as future sources of revenue. The $50 million in Series B money was raised against a valuation of $200 million, according to Swisher’s article, which likely makes Flipboard the highest-valued startup founded specifically to build mobile applications for Apple’s iOS mobile operating system. (The $41 million recently invested in Color Labs, maker of a photo-sharing app for iPhones, was raised against a rumored valuation of around $100 million.)

McCue said Flipboard’s next big project is an iPhone version of the “social magazine” app, which grabs headlines and snippets from users’ RSS feeds, and from articles mentioned by users’ Facebook and Twitter contacts, and arranges them in a magazine-like format on pages that the user navigates with the flick of a finger. Later, the company plans to build a version for Google Android devices.

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

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