Website building startup SynthaSite crossed the 1 million user mark in mid-December, it announced today. That’s a lot of websites, and the growth is particularly impressive given the San Francisco company only left beta testing a year ago, in November 2007.
I imagine that growth will have to continue if SynthaSite wants to hit profitability. When I spoke to chief executive Vinny Lingham in October, he said SynthaSite is still experimenting to find the right business model, since its site-building tools are free. One revenue source is domain registration — if you want to build a site outside the synthasite.com umbrella, you can pay the company $14.95 to set up a separate domain for you. The company says around one percent of new users pay for domains.
The company also makes money by letting businesses (and individuals) create stores on their SynthaSite pages — through PayPal integration, you can sell items directly on your site (rather than redirecting visitors to PayPal), and of course SynthaSite takes a cut. You can see the system at work at Cosmic Sensorium, a New Age-y site where visitors can purchase items like Mandala prints, which just won the business category in SynthaSite’s best website competition. (Forty-something won for best personal site.) SynthaSite tells me that about 30 percent of websites built with its tools are business-oriented, while 70 percent are personal.
SynthaSite raised $5 million of venture funding in 2007. One of its chief competitors, Weebly, hit 1 million users in November and said it was profitable.