Barely a day after Google Reader replacement Feedly began offering a paid version of its service, the company has sold out of the limited number of premium accounts it was making available. Feedly co-founders Edwin Khodabakchian and Cyril Moutran, say they had introduced 5,000 Pro accounts over the weekend in order to test an early version of the company’s premium product, which introduces secure browsing, Evernote integration, priority customer service, and most importantly, search.
Article search is one of the most highly anticipated features for Feedly, which currently competes against a host of alternatives, including Digg Reader and Newsblur, all of which have seen their user number grow in the wake of the Google Reader closure.
Feedly didn’t advertise the Pro version, which Moutran describes as a “v1″ product right now. Instead, the company allowed its most engaged users to sign up ahead of a larger, more public release. However, word got out when website Engadget spotted the addition on Sunday, helping to bring attention to Feedly Pro’s debut.
“It sold out much quicker than we thought,” says Moutran, who adds that users are coming from all over the world, including Brazil, France, Spain, Germany, the U.K., the U.S., and parts of Asia. “We thought the first users would be mostly in the U.S., but we’re seeing pretty much the same conversion across all counties,” he tells us.
The founders say the reason they launched Feedly Pro to only a limited number of users is because they plan on using the money the Pro accounts bring in to buy the hardware they need to roll out Pro accounts more broadly – something that’s planned for later this September, they estimate.
Today, the service has grown to over 13 million users, and now has 30 API partners live on its Feedly Cloud platform, which is what allows other news reading products and apps to utilize Feedly’s backend for their own purposes. Popular client apps like Reeder, Newsify, Mr. Reader, Byline and others already take advantage of Cloud today, and a number of other new additions will be announced in the next few weeks.
One thing that has had some scratching their heads is how Feedly has been managing to build a service of this size and scale on its own, when so many new entrants have nearly buckled under the flood of users arriving after the Google Reader shutdown. The answer to that is that Feedly has been at this for quite some time. The company first launched back in 2008, which gives it several years’ head start on the majority of competitors. Notably, has been bootstrapped out of the founders’ own pockets to date. The lack of a revenue stream had begun to worry some, who wondered if Feedly could make it without a viable income stream. But the company had told us in April how it planned to make money: by going “freemium.”
This weekend, Feedly finally switched on its business model ($5/mo or $45/year – sadly, the discounted $99/lifetime account was a one-time only deal; future lifetime accounts will cost more.) But even though Feedly has paying users now, that doesn’t mean that it’s not considering raising funding in the future.
“The opportunity is a [building a] reading platform around intent. A lot tools have been built around casual reading over the last few years, but very few have the level of engagements that we get,” says Khodabakchian, who adds that many of Feedly’s users are professionals consuming news, doctors doing research, designers following trends, and much more.
“Our vision is to create a platform that can enable you to consume this data more effectively, not just in Feedly but in tons of different applications,” he says. There are definitely a few external investors who are interested in that, Khodabakchian notes. “We’re not excluding anything, but we’d only [raise funding] if we find someone who’s really aligned on our vision,” he says. (Unrelated side note? Feedly seems to like Ben Horowitz.)