DataSphere, Backed by OVP and Ignition, Raises $10M to Tap into Hyperlocal Online Ad Market

9/9/10

DataSphere Technologies is riding the hyperlocal wave. The Bellevue, WA-based Web technology and ad sales company has raised another $10 million in a Series C venture round led by Kirkland, WA-based OVP Venture Partners. The financing will back DataSphere’s further expansion into the $100 billion U.S. local advertising market, the company said in a statement today.

Founded in 2006 under the name SecondSpace, DataSphere’s online platform helps media organizations, businesses, and real estate firms easily manage websites, track audience behavior, and implement search and information discovery.

Besides OVP, DataSphere is also backed by local venture firm Ignition Partners and a number of media organizations (both private and publicly traded) including the Northwest’s own Fisher Communications (NASDAQ:FSCI). The company raised a $6.5 million Series A in July 2006, followed by an additional $10.8 million Series B scored in January, meaning it has now raised a grand total of $27.3 million in its three venture rounds.

To date DataSphere has used its technology to build out over 750 hyperlocal (neighborhood-based news) websites for media companies like Cowles California Media, Gannett (NYSE:GCI), Raycom Media, LocalTV, Fisher Communications, and Hubbard Broadcasting. Fisher alone operates 54 DataSphere-powered sites in and around Seattle at KOMOnews.com.

Over the past year the company has seen dramatic growth. DataSphere reached over 12 million unique visitors across its advertising network in August alone. And with expansion in mind, the company says it is inking partnerships with media organizations nationwide, which will enable neighborhood news sites to 40 percent of the U.S. population. When Greg spoke with chief executive Satbir Khanuja, a seven-year Amazon.com veteran who holds a PhD in ceramics engineering from MIT, in January, the company had around 70 employees. Just nine months later, it has more than tripled in size, with 220 employees, the company says. And DataSphere expects to keep hiring another 150 people before the end of the year. DataSphere vice president of products Gary Cowan says this trend is consistent with the company’s plans for rapid expansion over the next year and beyond.

“Having launched over 300 neighborhood websites over the last 60 days, we’re on track to provide neighborhood news to more than 1,200 communities by the end of the year,” Khanuja said in a statement.

The $10 million in new financing will be used to expand Datasphere’s business capabilities, escalate the build-out of hyperlocal community websites, and enhance its products and services.

“We’ve experienced a tremendous demand for our services and this additional funding will ensure we’re able to accelerate our growth rate to meet the requirements of our rapidly expanding client base,” Khanuja said in a statement.

Thea Chard is a correspondent for Xconomy Seattle. You can e-mail her at theachard@gmail.com or follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/theachard. Follow @

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