SocialGO raise $2.2m on public markets, new valuation of $24m ahead of re-launch

SocialGO, the community building platform which in the past positioned itself against the likes of Ning, has secured $2.2m in funding from nine institutions in its largest fund raising to date. Since the startup is already floated on the AIM public market in the UK, the fund round lead by First Columbus, its secondary broker, and values the company at $24m. Prior to this it raised $800,000 from Veddis Ventures.

The institutions that took part were mainly private client funds that invest in small cap businesses. Some invested in previous rounds and will be announced in a public filing today. Alex Halliday, CEO and co-founder – who, at 25, happens to be also Britain’s youngest public CEO – told us the round was heavily oversubscribed. Bentworth Holdings Limited, in which former PartyGaming MD Vikrant Bhargava, a non-executive director, holds an indirect beneficial interest, owns 20.4 per cent of the company, according to a company filing.

The funds will be used to launch ‘SocialGO Version 2’ which is currently in closed beta and is due for launch in the middle of this year, but we can give you some screen shots below. The existing SocialGO platform hosts over 200,000 sites serving 3.5m users per month. Groups using include Levis, Hilton Hotels, French Presidential Candidates and Oxfam.

The idea behind Version 2 (a preview site is here) is to marry-up the community features of the existing platform, with simpler website building services like Jimdo and Moonfruit. The new platform comes with Facebook and Twitter sign-in pre-baked into the platform, and in-built social sharing out to those services. New designs will be provided by WooThemes. So, not entirely radical but a natural progression.

Halliday told me: “Ning is a huge competitor for communities with 2-300 users plus which is the same market we compete for today and will continue to do so. But also firmly in our sights are the website building services which represent the mass market. These are people building websites for their businesses and groups that might not want to run a full-on Ning (and SocialGO v1) style full social network, but do want to have social networking and community as part of their website offering.”

It’s good news for SocialGO because frankly their existing platform leaves a lot to be desired. Publishing blog posts is antiquated and themes are ridiculously hard to manage. I recall finding it easier to work with early versions of Drupal over 5 years go than with today’s SocialGO. So the refresh can’t come soon enough.

On 23 November 2010 a gross profit of £183,000 was reported for the period against a gross loss of £71,000 for the prior year. Revenues increased by 480% over the comparable period in the prior year.