HubDub's news 'game' secures it a $1.2m Series A funding

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News prediction site Hubdub has secured £810,000 ($1.2m) in Series A funding led by Pentech Ventures and Scottish Co-Investment Fund, along with a group of angel investors including Rikki Tahta, founder of Covestor.com, and Simon Murdoch, founder of Friendsabroad.com (recently sold to Babbel) and Tim Jackson, founder of QXL.com. The investment gives HubDub a runway of 18-24 months during which they expect to build up their partner base and be “at or near” profitability. The site now has a team of six and 6 part time category editors but isn’t planning on expanding.

The site itself claims 250,000 unique visitors trading around 100,000 predictions per month, however to base its future growth on its in-house portal – which spins its market around primarily US news – would be a mistake.

The real story behind HubDub is not its portal but it’s partner platform which turns any news site or blog into a prediction market. There is a big opportunity here. Based on industry standard figures, on a typical news site the average user will spend around 5 minutes on a site per month (about 10 page impressions). On Hubdub an active user will spend over 3 hours per month on site (equal to over 400 page impressions). Why? Because the content hase been turned into a game people want to win for kudos. HubDub says some users are spending several hours a day on the site – something you don’t get on your average news site.

The site now has partners including Reuters, The Independent and Huffington Post. As Marc Moens from Pentech says, it’s “engagement around their content” that counts when traditional online publishing models are feeling the downturn in the ad market. HubDub is also planning some premium products for later this year. In June it launched Pundit Watch – tracking predictions from pundits like TechCrunch’s Mike Arrington.

The timing is pretty good for this investment. There are no new competitors in the predictions market in the last 6 months (Athens-based Askmarkets is aimed at companies not the consumer market) and main competitor The Standard which launched in Feb last year is not growing and not partnering with media outlets – something which is reflected in its lacklustre growth. [UPDATE: Coincidentally Nostradamical launched its public beta today (CrunchBase entry here). Again, it concentrates on its portal, not content partners.]

Trendio hasn’t done much recently and , and Yahoo’s Tech Buzz Game closed. Meanwhile HubDub is tracking upwards:

Husband and wife team, Nigel and Lesley Eccles, came up with the Hubdub idea in August last year and founded the company in November 2007 with three friends, Tom Griffiths, Rob Jones and Chris Stafford. Hubdub is headquartered in Edinburgh, UK. Eccles was previously with Flutter.com (acquired by Betfair) and BETDAQ.

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