CINCINNATI – Hey, where’s the ocean view?
In a move that may shake venture capitalists who thought corn was the only thing growing between the East and West Coasts, Cincinnati-based PlanetFeedback.com recently netted $25 million in its second round of institutional funding. The online consumer response portal had previously raised $6 million in a Series A deal last November.
General Atlantic Partners led the new deal with a $14.4 million investment. The next largest plays came from existing investors Flatiron Partners and Blue Chip Venture Co. Additional participants included Protos LLC and N.J. Nicholas, former chief executive with Time Warner Inc.
“Unlike some of its competition, PlanetFeedback.com is looking to protect consumers rather than sell them out,” said Seth Goldstein, a principal with Flatiron Partners. “They’re not interested in turning the consumer into an e-mail address which can be gotten by the highest bidder.”
While PlanetFeedback.com does not plan to sell personal information as a means of raising revenue, the popularity of its competition should not be understated. Indeed, the company will have to do battle with entrenched powerhouses like Deja.com and up-and-comers like Epinions.com in order to establish itself as the premier destination for consumer complaints and kudos.
“There’s a whole bunch of players in the consumer cartel space, but we’re the only one that offers consumers the opportunity to relate information directly to the company which they have an issue with,” said Pete Blackshaw, founder and chief executive of PlanetFeedback.com. “That also means that we’re not reliant on banner ads or other typical dotcom strategies because we can not only sell a company information and data about itself, but also feedback about its competition.”
Blackshaw added that this service will not only prove cost-effective for organizations that currently spend countless man-hours sifting through consumer e-mails, but it will also allow those firms to recognize and respond to Internet rumors before they have a chance to flourish.
Proceeds from the Series B deal will be used for product development, the creation of businss-to-business alliances and extensive brand-building efforts that will include an advertising campaign aimed at consumers during possible moments of frustration. “We’ll put advertising near places like rental car counters and airline terminals,” Blackshaw said.
The company has not yet made any specific decisions regarding future funding, although Blackshaw did say it was likely that the company would begin marketing a strategic round before year end.
Neither Lycos Ventures nor Allen & Co., both of which invested in PlanetFeedback.com’s Series A financing, were involved in the more recent transaction.