Retickr Raises $1.5M For A Social News Reader That Learns What You Like

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Retickr, a social news reader application for Mac OS X, received a big update today, as well as a new round of funding. The startup just closed its Series A of $1.5 million led by the Lamp Post Group, the investors who had previously put $150,000 into the company’s seed round.

The app, which combines RSS, social networking updates and news, is not your standard feed reader, but rather attempts to personalize your news reading experience the more you use the product.

Explains Retickr co-founder Brian Trautschold, “information overload is an epidemic – content is being created faster than ever before, and people can’t keep up.” But he clarifies that his startup is not a simply a news reader – it’s a big data company. “We are focusing on an algorithmic approach that we believe should be individual-centric…our API learns what people read, like or dislike, and share. As we roll personalization out, users will begin to see content catered to them, and discover news they would have missed before,” he says.

The idea for a personalized, ever-learning news reader is not a new one, but these days, it’s more common to see such things launching as iPad apps, not as desktop software. (See, for example, Evri for iPad or News360). Retickr plans to address other platforms too, including web and mobile, but started with the Mac app instead.

With the updated version of the Retickr app (ver. 2.0), which rolls out today at noon (ET) on the Mac App Store, you can now sync your Facebook, Twitter and Google Reader feeds and then incorporate those streams into “playlists” along with the news feeds from over 85,000 sites that the service crawls. This addresses one of users’ bigger complaints about the earlier version of Retickr’s product: an inability to import OPML files or sync with Google Reader. Done!

The app will appeal to the social dashboard user base (TweetDeck users, e.g.), but aims to help cut down on the noise of the real-time streams with customized controls that let you configure how fast news scrolls by. But the name “Retickr” comes from the app’s key feature: its news ticker. The ticker is reminiscent of an older product called Snackr, which I happily used until I couldn’t stand its Adobe AIR-ness any more.

A word of warning for serious RSS connoisseurs, however: Retickr took forever to import my 1,000+ Google Reader feeds. It’s unclear if this was an issue with the alpha version of the product I was using, or a serious bug that still needs to be addressed. But with a million and half now in the bank, I expect the issue to be resolved soon.