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Amid acquisition rumors, Flipboard raises $50M

Flipboard recently revealed that it has 70M MAUs, but engagement is still very low

Financial trends and news by Steven Loeb
July 23, 2015
Short URL: http://vator.tv/n/3ef0

This is an interesting time for mobile media magazine app Flipboard. As the app reaches new user milestones, recently announcing that it has hit 70 million monthly active users, it has also been the subject of intense speculation about a possible acquisition, perhaps by Google but most likely by Twitter

Rather than sit around waiting to have other decide its fate, though, Flipboard is taking matters into its own hands by going out and raising some fresh capital.

Flipboard has now raised a new $50 million round, the company has confirmed to VatorNews. The company does not seem to be disclosing who participated in this round, only saying that it was from "a new institutional investor."

The company had previously raised $161 million, most recently raised a $50 million add on to its Series C round December 2013. Previous investors include Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byer, Index Ventures, Insight Venture Partners, Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz, Ashton Kutcher, and The Chernin Group.

That last round of funding was said to have valued Flipboard at $800 million. The company also would not reveal what its current valuation is following this latest funding.

Flipboard aggregates news from media feeds and social media websites, including both Twitter and Facebook. It takes all of those streams of data, and presents it in a magazine format that users can flip through.

Publishers that the company works with include Vanity Fair, Vogue, The Daily Beast, National Geographic, CNN, The Guardian and thousands more. 

The company currently offers 19 localized editions of its app, for Arabic, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Italy, Japan, Korea, Latin America, Netherlands, Russia, Spain, Taiwan, Turkey, U.S. and U.K. As of March, it had more than 15 million public magazines created by people using Flipboard.

Flipboard says that it will use the funds to expand its engineering and sales teams, and to increase its investment in infrastructure "to support the growing number of readers and curators on Flipboard.”

This news likely upends Flipboard's attempts to sell itself.

In addition to Twitter, the company is also a potential acquisition target for other companies, including Facebook, which tried, and failed, to launch its own reader app called Paper. Its easy to see Facebook simply buying a company to do what it couldn't do in-house. Google has also been mentioned as possibility. 

The reason many have cited for Flipboard's eagerness to be sold off has to do with low engagement numbers.

While the company has reached 70 million MAUs, a number that was helped enormously by launching on the Web in February, resulting in a 75% increase in just six months, there is another number lurking underneath: CEO Mike McCue also revealed that Flipboard is installed on 300 million mobile devices. If only 70 million are actively using the service, and a large percentage of those are on the Web, then Flipboard has a big problem on its hands, especially when it comes to mobile.

Still, it is rare for a company of Flipboard's size, and success, to put itself on the market like this. And perhaps this new funding is a sign that the company is ready to make a go of it on its own.

The funding round was originally confirmed by VentureBeat.

(Image source: about.flipboard.com)


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