Zvents, a Web 2.0 app that enables local sites to manage events, including events inputted by users, announced today that it has received $7 million from several VC firms, including Vantage Point Venture Partners (a funder of ReachLocal). It also announced a new newspaper partnership with The Boston Globe, adding to prior relationships with MediaNews Group’s Denver Post and the San Jose Mercury News, as well as McClatchy’s Miami Herald. An additional deal in “Greater Los Angeles” is promised before the end of 2006, which probably means MNG’s Los Angeles News Group.
Founded in early 2005, the company operates on a revenue share basis with its media partners. It not only manages event calendars, but also adds a social context to the events guide. The company promotes cross-site traffic by connecting editorial reviews and news.
While the site is pursuing media partners in local markets, it is also apparently ready to go solo as it expands, with a self-serve ad component although the company says this is not the case.
Company CEO and founder Ethan Stock says that events are naturally aligned with newspapers. In fact, the difficulty of having comprehensive and accurate event lists is the real barrier to local inroads by the portals (although apparently, that is evolving he is in talks with the top five portals). In addition to deals with newspapers and portals, Stock says the company is pursuing local verticals, such as sites for local mothers.
Zvents, of course, doesn't have the field to itself. Another events company, San Diego-based Eventful (formerly EVDB), is also in the marketplace, albeit in a broader, extra-local context. And the site competes with social network sites, such as Yelp, and news aggregators such as Topix that also feature events. But it is probably safe to say that Zvents is the only site focused specifically on events in the local marketplace.
To be sure, local event listings are a key differentiator for newspapers over other local media (i.e., radio and TV stations and city guides). One reason is that they have been manpower intensive and difficult to maintain. I remember walking into Microsoft Sidewalk in 1999 and seeing all the events for Seattle written out on index cards. That’s when I finally realized that Microsoft’s vaunted technological advantages amounted to nothing.