New York-based Magzter, a startup founded in 2011 to help magazine publishers get their pubs in the hands of digital readers, regardless of which platform they choose to use to read. In two years of operation, the company has managed to rack up over 900 publisher partners and put out over 2,850 issues of magazines, the company says, all powered by its proprietary web-based simple publishing tool, which pushes out editions to iOS, Google Play, Windows 8, the web and both Amazon and Huawei’s dedicated app stores all at once.
Magzter has done a good job bringing on new clients so far, and has managed to secure some high-profile U.S.-based publications recently, including from publishers like Hearst, Condé Nast, Newsweek and more. That growth, and the ongoing push for the company to become the provider of choice for a wide variety of pubs, and their localized editions, to all potential digital subscribers, is what’s behind the new $10 million round of Series B funding the company is announcing today.
“Over time, we have seen a lot of the publishers in other geographies, a lot of the licensees in different parts of the world, are using Magzter,” explained Magzter CEO Girish Ramdas in an interview. “If you go to Magzter and type in ‘Maxim,” for example, you’ll find 10 to 15 editions of Magzter from different countries, including Switzerland, South Africa, India, Singapore, etc.”
Ramdas says that making it easy for publishers to publish all their international editions and make them available on the same platform to a worldwide audience is the big opportunity for Magzter, and the funding will go to helping push that opportunity so that more and more publishers are aware they can do it cheaply and easily.
I asked Ramdas why he believes Magzter stands a chance against strong legacy players like Adobe, which makes a digital publishing suite specifically targeted at the same customer group his company focuses on. He says that it has the advantage of being priced based only on usage via revenue share agreement, rather than subscription, so Magzter gets paid only when publishers do. It’s also an open platform, which provides simple one-click publishing tools for basic digitization but also allows people to build their own interactive functionality right in using HTML5.
The investors for this round are led by Singapore Press Holdings, which is a strategic partner in that it publishes over 100 magazines in Singapore and the surrounding region, reaching a total audience of around 3 million individuals. Magzter is also working on product solutions that better automatically format content from magazines for small screen devices, so that publications can reach an audience on iPhone at the same time as they reach the iPad and tablet crowd, but with a delivery method better suited to the smaller screen.
Digital publishing is an interesting space to be in, because while publishers have enjoyed some success from Newsstand and other initiatives, these haven’t really provided the drastic turnaround required to fend off sluggish print sales. Better tools are one ingredient for attracting and keeping audiences, but magazines will probably have to dig deeper to turn things around in general.