As a graduate of The New York Times Company’s “timeSpace” accelerator, New York startup Seen has been plying its wares since 2012, when capturing real-time events via social media was still relatively new and chaotic. They pitched it as a space in between Twitter and Google News. A number of competitors have arisen to also have a go at this area. Rebelmouse came out the same year and has since raised $12.8M to power social publishing for brands and publishers. However, Seen has not been idle, garnering three Google Research Awards and two patents on the science around identifying trending signals on the real-time web.
Seen is now announcing $1.25M in seed investment evenly split between Horizons Ventures and KEC Ventures. Li Ka-Shing and Jeff Citron (Horizons and KEC Ventures respectively) join in the investment for Seen, joining notable angels including David Tisch’s BoxGroup, Scott and Cyan Banister, Matt Rolandson and Sam Tripodi, Andrew Rasiej, Cantora Records, and Thatcher Bell, Venture Partner at Gotham Ventures.
The funding will be used to cover more stories, expand the technology team and bring Seen’s product to bear on the $200 billion live events market. Here’s their feed from Disrupt Europe for instance.
Why did they invest? Well, Bart Swanson of Horizons Ventures, says he thinks “structuring real-time stories algorithmically is a tremendous business opportunity.”
It’s clear that Seen is onto something, as the publishing industry is embracing social and “user generated content” as part of their businesses, hence why companies like Seen, Rebelmouse and Dataminr can capitalise on this trend, whether the live event of a protest in Hong Kong or the launch of a new iPhone.
Founder Tarikh Korula says “Google was built for an older web made of simple HTML sites linking to one another. Today, services like Twitter, Instagram, Vine, Tumblr, and others are creating a real-time web that requires a new paradigm for organisation, search and discovery — that’s what Seen is all about.”
I agree and this is a burgeoning area, though I would personally argue that mobile platforms are the place for live events, and it’s to be hoped Seen develops in that arena.
The platform is in use by customers including The Bowery Presents, a concert promotion and venue management organization that runs multiple venues in New York City, Boston, Philadelphia, Atlanta, and Maine. Recently, Jumbotrons at The Governor’s Ball music festival used Seen to engage with visitors to the 3-day cultural phenomenon (headliners included Outkast, Phoenix and Jack White.)