News search engine Topix.net has announced that has taken $15 million in additional funding from three large media companies, Tribune, Gannett and McClatchy. The company raised a round about 18 months ago for an undisclosed sum that was only said to be under $5 million. That funding came from Tribune, Gannet and Knight-Ridder, who have since been acquired by McClatchy.
Topix brings a long list of features to news search and focuses on local information.
The company was started by several founders of the DMOZ directory. The company says that it is currently experiencing substantial growth, something that traffic analysts Hitwise confirm. Hitwise reported in September that Topix’s market share in online news had grown 24% in one month since an August relaunch, that the site gets more traffic than the LA Times and the NY Post; Topix visitors were unusually weighted towards states like Kentucky, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, and North Carolina and its users were 29% more likely to be over the age of 55 than the average Internet user.
What does Topix offer that Yahoo! News and Google News don’t? A few things. When Topix relaunched in August, the company said its index had grown to include 50,000 news sources – 10 times more than the Google News and 7 times as large as Yahoo! News. Topix has topical pages, has strong search by zip code, integrates relatively active forums and visualization. The year long time line displayed with every search is a fast way to skip to a particular date in a news search and shows the context of the point in time you are skipping to. Try using the timeline on Topix and then try to accomplish the same result with Yahoo or Google news search. Topix also has the most extensive support for RSS.
Though traffic stats have to be taken with a giant grain of salt, look at those demographics intersecting with the feature set. Topix is proof that you can load a site up with features and still win over mainstream users.
The company provides local and national news to online publications owned by their investors like the LA Times, the Chicago Tribune and the Baltimore Sun. Topix also powers Ask.com’s local search and says it has other distribution deals with Yahoo!, Bloglines, Newsgator, CitySearch and several other large sites.
Topix has always been a forward looking company; before Google starting moving to integrate blog search and news search and offer search results more than a few weeks old, Topix had done both of those well for more than a year. Why they need almost $20 million in investment over the last two years is unclear, but it can’t be denied that they are doing a good job of providing a valuable service to many online properties and are creating a rich experience for users once they are drawn in.
I look forward to seeing more exciting things come from this company. Local search is becoming increasingly competitive, but when it comes to news and features, Topix is a key site to watch.