Outside.in, the place-blogging site that collects everything that appears on the Web in a geographical context blogs, traditional media, individual contributions has won $900,000 of funding from a number of high-profile investors, including Esther Dyson, Marc Andresson, John Seely Brown and Union Square Ventures (formerly FlatIron Partners). It is nice to see these luminaries take such an interest in local (although the guys at Union Square Ventures have tried a number of times before. Remember kozmo.com, the free delivery service?).
The money will allow the three cofounders to expand to a staff of 10, add new resources, including a “meet your neighbors” section, and expand internationally. The site currently serves 63 cities and 3,217 neighborhoods. (And, we hope, it will pay cofounder John Geraci's airfare to Santa Clara March 20-21, when he speaks at our Local '07 conference). You can read more about the service on my post from last November.
Union Square’s Fred Wilson, in a press release, presents an interesting hypothesis about his latest investment. “The best Web services are two-way systems. They take content in, add something to it, and then send it back out. YouTube works this way. So do Delicious and Flickr. To date, we haven't seen such a service for local information online. Outside.in will hopefully fill that void.”
On his blog, Wilson has more: “Look at the advertisers who populate the local paper, the Yellow Pages, and the local radio stations. They need a place to go online and when they find it, the dollars that will flow are large, very large. Clearly search will get a big piece of that pie (search always does), but the killer local service is one that can serve the residents and the merchants of a city, town, and neighborhood the way the local paper has in the past.”
In addition to Geraci, Local ’07 is really covering the bases on hyper-local and vertical. In addition to Geraci, our hyper-local panel features Chris DeVore, Judy's Book; Mary Lou Fulton, who runs Baketopia and The Inside Guide for The Bakersfield Californian; Ryan Massie, Ask (who works on Ask City); and Ian White, Urban Mapping. A separate vertical panel features Matthew Berk, Marchex; Glenn Goad, NCI; Lem Lloyd, Oodle; Chad Schott, R.H. Donnelley (who works on Chicago B2B); and Lockhart Steele, Curbed.