Big money for simple websites: SynthaSite raises $20M

SynthaSite, an easy-to-use website builder, has raised $20 million in a second round of funding.

We’re talking about a jaw-dropping amount of cash, particularly when you add that to the $5 million that SynthaSite raised in 2007. That’s a big vote of confidence from Reinet Fund S.C.A.; before restructuring as Reinet, the fund’s prior incarnation as Columbus Venture Capital backed the San Francisco company’s first round. The round also cements SynthaSite’s tremendous lead in funding over its competitors — Weebly, its most prominent rival, has only been seed funded for $650,000 — and could allow the company to build out its product through acquisitions.

On the other hand, it looks like Weebly didn’t need the funding to take the lead. Last November, Weebly announced that it had hit 1 million users and was profitable. (SynthaSite hit the same user milestone a month later.) Perhaps more significant than a pure horse race comparison is the fact that interest in these kinds of services seems to be growing, at least according to traffic data from Compete — yes, Weebly holds the top spot, but both websites have been growing quickly.

The other question is whether SynthaSite will figure out a revenue model that justifies the investment, since its basic tools are free. The company already allows users to buy domain names through SynthaSite and to build online stores on their sites; chief executive Vinny Lingham told TechCrunch that premium services will be coming later this year.

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