How much for that headline in the window?
Mochila, a New York based start-up aiming to create a new online market for syndicated news content, has raised $8 million in a Series B round of funding led by Charles River Ventures. The cash is the latest sign that Mochila's business may get off the ground. Mochila (the name is apparently spanish for "knapsack,") envisions a world in which the existing AP-Reuters subscription wire service model will give way to an online spot market for content. The company's system -- which is strictly business-to-business for the moment -- allows member editors to browse news stories, as well as photos, audio, and video, and to buy, iTunes-like, whatever they want.
Since it emerged from "stealth mode" last April, the company claims to have signed up over 100 media companies that "own and operate more than 1,500 newspapers, magazines, wire services and websites combined." Among others: the Associated Press, Hearst Magazines, and Hachette Filipacchi Media.
In the purchasing process, the editor can, for varying prices, stipulate what degree of exclusivity he or she requires on the item. So, for example, a Hearst magazine editor might purchase the North American rights to a news feature in perpetuity. Naturally, for there to be buyers there must be sellers, and Mochila depends on its members also submitting content to the market.
The Browser met with Mochila last spring and got the pitch from CEO Keith McAllister, onetime Managing Editor of CNN's national news operations, and CTO/Chairman Benjamin Chen, formerly CIO of once high-flying iXL. Our take: McAllister and Chen are right that the Internet will - and has already to some extent - upend the conventional model for syndicated news, and they certainly have the management experience and, increasingly, the cash to make a run at the problem. On the other hand, their closed system -- with its attempt to model the many complex licensing rules that now govern content syndication -- runs somewhat counter to the open RSS ("Really Simple Syndication") ethic that has flourished thusfar online. Of course, according to a brand new Forrester report, only 2% of Internet users actually use RSS, so what do we know? Stay tuned.
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