Clearspring, a startup that raised $35 million during the widgets craze nearly two years ago, is putting one of its widgets, Launchpad, to bed and focusing all its energy on another it acquired a year ago, called AddThis. (It’s the little widget pictured below).
“We bought the company in 2008 with the vision of creating one universal sharing platform, with widgets or links to any service on any site,” said chief executive Hooman Radfar, who says the company’s widgets are exposed to 600 million unique visitors each year. Radfar says he hopes the company can reach profitability next year through a combination of advertising and paid analytics services for publishers.
AddThis lets you share to a number of platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, Digg, and more obscure services like Menéame, Hatena, and Nujij. Launchpad had some similar functionality, so Clearspring is consolidating its efforts under the better-known brand.
The McLean, Virginia-based company raised $18 million last year in a round led by New Enterprise Associates. But a number of upstarts like Tweetmeme have emerged, offering share buttons built around Twitter and Facebook. Plus, users and publishers are increasingly consolidating around those two social networks — Facebook, for one, now sees 3.5 billion items shared every single week. But Radfar said changing behavior around sharing have benefited Clearspring, giving its widgets three times as much exposure as the previous year.
The other problem is that when your product is a tiny piece of real estate on the websites of publishers grasping for income, it’s difficult to push for your own advertising on other companies’ online properties. Radfar says the company is earning revenue through advertising on its AddThis toolbar plus custom campaigns for brands like this one promoting the latest Indiana Jones movie for Paramount.