When Spool debuted at TechCrunch Disrupt in September, the app and browser extension was focused on caching videos, articles, and other web content to your mobile device. It was like Instapaper on steroids. Today, Spool will announce $1 million in new funding and an expanded vision — allowing people to push that cached content directly to the devices of their friends. Investors include, SVAngel, Felicis Ventures, Yuri Milner’s Start Fund and YouTube founder Steve Chen. The funding will go towards scaling the complex back-end caching technology that makes Spool defensible.
Other investors contributing to Spool’s $1 million round are prolific media angel Vivi Nevo (NV Investments), Elad Gil (Director of Strategy, Twitter) Charles River Ventures, Deep Nishar (Senior VP, LinkedIn), Kevin Donahue (Former VP, YouTube), Joe Lonsdale (Founder of Palantir), and entrepreneurs Bill Lohse, David King, Nils Johnson, Matt Ocko, and Raymond Tonsing. The funding builds on a small angel round from Kevin Donahue last year. Spool is now investing the new money in a self-scaling system on cloud servers to handle its increasing load.
Spool allows you to send any link to your mobile device through its Chrome and Firefox extensions, mobile bookmarklet, or a unique email address. The extensions even overlay Spool buttons next to links on Twitter, Facebook, Techmeme, and other sites. Spool’s system than scans the page and copies text, images, .PDFs, or even any format of video (including Flash) and caches them to your device’s memory so the content can be accessed without an internet connection.
Rather than broadcasting a favorite piece of content on Facebook or Twitter, you can drop it directly into the Spool library of a friend’s device. This push model leads to a much higher signal to noise ratio than typical broadcast and pull sharing through social networks. Spool works great for insatiable content consumers, commuters with spare time but spotty connectivity, and anyone who flies.
The TechCrunch Disrupt finalist’s mobile app beta is now available for iPhone, iPad, Kindle Fire, Android phones and tablets. CEO and co-founder Avichal Garg tells me the company is “Trying to let people in as quickly as we can. They usually get in within 48-72 hours.” With no marketing and little press since launch, Spool is already #14 on the top free Android Marketplace app charts.
Garg explains “Our retention curve is incredible, like DropBox or Evernote, once you have content in you don’t leave.” This sets Spool up for a lucrative recurring payment monetization model once the service can deliver on its promise. Spool could give away several months of access for free as you build a cached content library, then start charging a monthly fee. Garg says “Most startups have a retention problem where traffic spikes and disappears. Our challenge is how to get enough users in the door.”
Customer acquisition shouldn’t be a problem though, as I’m loving the user experience. There’s also built-in virality since users can push content to friends without accounts, who can then access it once they sign up. Its push sharing model meshes well with new social micronetworks like Path 2, so asked whether Spool considered itself an M&A target. Garg smiled and said, “We don’t want to sell. We’ve had acquisition offers and we’ve turned them down. There’s opportunity here.”