Qwiki, a startup that describes itself as delivering a new “information experience,” just announced that it has raised $8 million in its first institutional round of funding.
I wrote about Qwiki earlier this month, when the funding was revealed through a regulatory filing. At the time, the filing said the Palo Alto, Calif. startup had only raised $5 million of the round. After the article was published, co-founder and chief executive Doug Imbruce hinted that there were some big names involved in the round. And now he’s revealed that the biggest investor was Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin.
Saverin, of course, recently saw a big boost to his profile thanks to his largely sympathetic portrayal in the movie The Social Network. Saverin was pushed out from any active role in Facebook, but he settled with Facebook for an undisclosed amount and remains one of the company’s largest shareholders — his shares are worth billions of dollars now. After the movie came out, Saverin published a column in CNBC that was largely noncommittal about Facebook (presumably because he signed a nondisclosure agreement as part of his settlement) but went on and on about the importance of entrepreneurship.
Also investing in the round are YouTube co-founder Jawed Karim, Juniper Networks co-founder Pradeep Sindhu, Lerer Media Ventures, Tugboat Ventures, and Contour Venture Partners. (I can’t help but note that although Saverin and Karim were both involved in hugely popular Web companies, they were both overshadowed by their co-founders.)
So what is Qwiki? The goal is to deliver a rich, multimedia overview of topics like “San Francisco” and “Eduardo Saverin,” one that pulls together text, images, video, and more from sources like Wikipedia. Imbruce has compared the experience to how computers deliver information in science fiction movies such as Wall-E. The site is still in an invite-only alpha test, but Imbruce has said the company is also working on mobile versions, as well as personalized features.
The company has now raised a total of $9.5 million. Saverin and Pejman Nozad (whose firm Amidzad is also an investor in VentureBeat) are joining Qwiki’s board as non-voting observers.