This article was published on July 19, 2012

Pocket gets $5m from Google Ventures and others to expand its read-it-later service to new platforms

Pocket gets $5m from Google Ventures and others to expand its read-it-later service to new platforms
Matthew Panzarino
Story by

Matthew Panzarino

Matthew Panzarino was Managing Editor at TNW. He's no longer with the company, but you can follow him on Twitter. Matthew Panzarino was Managing Editor at TNW. He's no longer with the company, but you can follow him on Twitter.

The incredibly popular ‘save for later’ service Pocket is now clocking some 1M items saved per day and has announced a new $5M round of funding. Participating in this round is Foundation Capital, Baseline Ventures and Google Ventures, with the funds going to boost the speed of its rollout to other platforms.

Pocket says that expanding the service is its primary goal at the moment. The app’s read it later feature is already integrated with over 350 apps on iOS and Android, including Flipboard, Twitter, Zite and more.

“Going from Read It Later to Pocket was the first phase of our vision for what the ‘save for later’ space could become,” says Nate Weiner, founder of Pocket. “The tremendous response to Pocket, and the millions of new users adopting it has validated our vision. This additional financing gives us the resources we need to fulfill the rest of our plans.”

Pocket rebranded itself from Read it Later in April of this year, with a bigger focus on saving all kinds of content like video and images, rather than primarily text.

We had a chance to chat briefly with Weiner about the funding round, competition and where they plan to take the service from here.

TNW: Facebook recently acquired the Spool team for its mobile business. Do you have any thoughts about how Pocket might compete in a world where Facebook has a ‘read it later’ service of its own? Or do you think that’s even what they’re interested in Spool for?

Weiner: It’s the same world where we compete against Apple and Google. The fact is that it’s very difficult (if not impossible) for these big guys to compete on what we do. A save for later service only works for you if you can save and view from every platform and every app. If you put it in a silo it simply doesn’t work. This is why Apple launching Reading List last year had no effect on us whatsoever. People do not want 10 different lists in 10 different places. The percentage of our users who could fit into an all-Apple-all-Safari solution is less than 1% of our user base. This goes for something like Facebook too. Saves from Facebook make up less than 5% of what is saved into Pocket. That means if the tool was Facebook only, it wouldn’t work for 95% of the places where users save and view their content.

Here’s where they save content from:
• 30% news & reader apps (mobile)
• 19% twitter apps (mobile)
• 19% Firefox (web)
• 15% Chrome (web)
• 4% mobile safari (mobile)
• 3% other (mobile); 10% other (web)

So consider even if Twitter launched their own save for later service. It wouldn’t be usable for 80% of the rest of the web.

TNW: Any plans for the $5M that you can share now?

Weiner: By raising this additional capital, it allows us to continue to focus on all of the goals we believe are important to building out the future of Pocket. They are: Improve the core save for later experience, expand to more platforms with better and smoother integrations across them, and bolster the team to make this happen.

It’s really about focus. We have a lot that we want to do and this lets us focus on what needs to happen to get it done.

TNW: I know you say you guys are thinking hard about the business model of Pocket, have you come to any conclusions about which direction you might go?

Weiner: We’ve known where we are headed since last year. But like anything we do with any product or feature, we don’t release it until it’s ready. This is a new, uncharted space and we’re not prepared to release something that isn’t right.

TNW: The announcement today talks a lot about expanding to other platforms. Do you have any you can share? Are there plans, for instance, to make Pocket a true second screen experience outside of Apple’s AirPlay?

Weiner: Pocket becomes exponentially more useful every time you add a new platform. If there is a major platform out there, there is a good chance we have a plan to be on it.

TNW: In a related question, do you have any thoughts about Apple opening up the Apple TV for apps? It seems like Pocket would fit that model like a glove.

Weiner: I have been waiting a long long time for Apple to open up the Apple TV for apps. We’ve thought a lot about how Pocket would work with a TV. To be honest, one of the big motivations for the RIL->Pocket name change was realizing how awkward the name ‘Read It Later’ would be on a TV.

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