Revcontent, a self-funded company powering content recommendations for publishers like Forbes and The Atlantic, has acquired Rover.
That’s not Rover the pet-sitting marketplace, but rather the content discovery app formerly known as Flipora and Infoaxe. CEO John Lemp told me that Revcontent is paying “north of $30 million” in cash and stock for the acquisition, which he described as an investment in better content recommendations.
He added that Rover will help publishers deliver Facebook-style personalization with technology that’s “three times more granular than Facebook” (in the sense that it looks at 3,000 possible user interests).
“We want people to genuinely connect to their users across the web,” Lemp said. “We want to create a uniform personal web, so that media is not going to become a slave to any one company.”
And while content recommendation services like Taboola and Outbrain aren’t exactly known for recommending high quality journalism, Lemp said technology can make the industry better: “I see a shallow experience. I see an experience that’s broken. We want to create a better experience. … Technology is the key.”
Rover CEO Jonathan Siddharth added that he’s particularly excited about the combination of his company’s technology with Revcontent’s data. (Revcontent claims to deliver 250 billion content recommendations per month.) In fact, Siddharth’s co-founder Vijay Krishnan said they’ve already seen that integrating Revcontent and Rover can improve ad revenue (specifically, eCPMS) by 90 percent.
Like Lemp, Siddharth and Krishnan argued that content recommendations will be key to building a viable business model for online journalism — not just as a source of traffic and revenue, but also as valuable data about what users are responding to.
“For a functioning democracy, you not only need free speech to be permissible by law, you also need free speech to be commercially viable,” Krishnan said.
Following the acquisition, the entire Rover team will be joining Revcontent. The startup previously raised nearly $7 million from investors including Stephen Oskoui of Founders Fund, Gokul Rajaram, Barney Pell, Ilya Fushman, Mayank Bawa, Draper Fisher Jurvetson and Amidzad Ventures.