Zvents, which is seeking to transform the events category to a broader “what, when and where” category that encompasses local entertainment, organizations and businesses, has announced $24 million in new funding from AT&T (i.e., wireless and Yellow Pages), Nokia Growth Capital and NAVTEQ.
The funding is on top of $7.2 million previously raised from Vantage Point Venture Partners and Red Rock Ventures, both of which are also participating in the new round. A third early funder, Net Services Inc., isn’t participating in the new round.
The massive unding for a company pulling in $220,000 per month suggests a major bet by the companies. The bet is in several things swirling in and around the events category, but not yet mastered by Zvents (or rival Eventful, for that matter).
These include taking a lead role in mobile searches for events, which is a top use for mobile phones; selling ads to the likes of Home Depot and REI for promotion-based events; the development of an ad network that would allow Zvents to place media from one partner site to another; and the ability to fully leverage Zvents’ network of 250-plus local sites, focused largely on many key newspapers.
All this is very ambitious. But te move of a hefty portion of events-oriented search to mobile is real, especially with the increased presence of smartphones. Advertising-wise, it makes more sense for some categories than others. The Dinosaur Show at the Milwaukee Arena that is coming to Chicago makes sense. But isn’t it a little off center to think Home Depot’s caulking workshops translate into a high CPM advertising opportunity? That’s going to take a major evolution of thinking at the agencies.
Our interpretation is that buried somewhere in this is a strong vote of confidence in local mobile as a targeted ad platform; the globalization of search; and in the compelling vision of Zvents Founder Ethan Stock. It isn’t a sure thing, but we like where it is going.