I wrote this post for the Union Square Ventures blog and it will go up there today, but in the meantime I’ll post the news here.

Union Square Ventures has invested in a number of blogging related applications and
services; Adaptive Blue, Delicious, Disqus, FeedBurner, Outside.in,
Twitter, and Tumblr. We’ve been attracted to this sector for a number
of reason; because an increasing amount of content is produced with
these kinds of tools and services, because traditional media is
increasingly adopting these tools and services themselves, and because
our personal usage has given us a deep understanding of these tools and

Today we are announcing yet another investment in this sector, a small company in Slovenia and London called Zemanta.
Zemanta is a service that’s focused on helping the blogger/content
creator make the process of creating their content simpler and easier.
As you write, Zemanta processes all of your text (like a spell checker
in a word processing program does) and suggests things to you.
Currently, Zemanta suggests stories/posts/research you might want to
read as you compose your post, images you might want to include in the
post, words you might want to hyperlink out with, and tags for search
engines and other services to use to discover your content.

number of us at Union Square Ventures have been using the Zemanta
service for several months and we universally like it and have found
that we feel less equipped when we try to blog without it. I used the Zemanta service to add the related links at the end of this post and several of the links in it. Currently
you can get the Zemanta service as a free plugin
for the following applications and services; Firefox, Internet
Explorer, Microsoft Live Writer, WordPress, Moveable Type, and Drupal.

many of the services we invest in, Zemanta’s initial value proposition
is significant and has allowed them to reach a critical mass of
bloggers. But the potential for Zemanta goes way beyond recommending
links, images, and tags. If you think about it, Zemanta is "adwords for
content creators". And we are eager to see them open up this contextual
recommendation engine to other web apps and services that content
creators might like to add into their posts at the time of creation.
The obvious things would be monetization services (affiliate links,
text ads, and even graphical ads), widgets and badges, video, quotes,
and music. But honestly the potential for this sort of thing is quite
significant and we certainly cannot know for sure where it will
ultimately lead.

We were invited to join existing UK investors Eden Ventures and The Accelerator Group (TAG) as seed investors in Zemanta. Zemanta was the winner of last year’s seedcamp
program in London, which is kicking off again this week in London. We
are very pleased to be joining a couple of top notch early stage
investors in London in this deal and we are equally excited to add a
seedcamp company to our portfolio.

This is our second
investment in Europe and it is possibly the first investment in a
Slovenian tech company by a US venture capital investor. So we are
making a bit of history here and that’s exciting too. The founders of
Zemanta, Boštjan Špetič and Andraž Tori,
are leading members of the Slovenian tech community and have built an
amazing team of developers. Our investment will fund the development of
a US-based business development team and we are looking for candidates
in the bay area and metro NY to join the company. If you are
interested, please let us know in the comments or via email.

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Comments (Archived):

  1. sass

    Congrats. I have been using Zemanta for both my blogs for some time now and have been impressed. Even when I don’t use some of the suggested images and links, the suggestions spark some good thinking during the creative writing process, which is fun and makes writing feel a little less “solo.” I’ll be interested to see how Zemanta progresses down the monetization path, and how that may influence usage. Congrats again.

  2. howardlindzon

    you say zemanta, I say zemanto….Was the investment in Euro’s or US Dollars BTWCongrats…sounds fun

    1. fredwilson

      british pounds actually

  3. mfusco

    Congratulations on the new investment. I haven’t tried the service yet, but will be sure to now. They seem to have an interesting value proposition. Knowing how much work it is to create and maintain a blog, anything that helps simplify the process and adds significant value, will be welcomed. Do you think the recommendations provided will take away some of the “individual personality” of the blogs or enhance it?

  4. Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry

    I’d briefly looked at Zemanta before but originally didn’t think much of it, but the way you describe it definitely makes it seem exciting. If there’s a Tumblr/Chrome version forthcoming I’ll definitely check it out.As a European web enthusiast I’m also definitely excited to see you invest in a European web startup. As I’ve argued here before, I think the European scene is full of hidden, diamonds in the rough potential and US VCs will almost certainly be key in unlocking that potential.All great news!

  5. pangaro

    zemanta functions are an excellent basis for a training system. removing barriers to understanding equals bridging the gap between content and a specific user’s mental model. through personalization and the calculation of that gap, content could be offered to bring the user to a point where the current text is comprehensible. such an addition to the zemanta plug-in would make every browser a learning machine.

  6. Wallen

    Congrats! Products sounds great and good to see USV investing in Europe!

  7. D. Lambert

    I was pretty excited about Zemanta when I heard about it. I’ve been using it now on a couple blogs – one WordPress, one Drupal (through the Live Writer plugin), and I’m pleased with it. It’s not quite as revolutionary as I’d hoped, but it does a lot of small things that help increase the quality of my posts. If they keep making improvements, I think it will be a really useful tool.I’m also interested to see how they monetize – I’ve seen other “blog helper” tools that start to integrate an ad network, which might not be bad if it’s done unobtrusively. Congratulations. You’ve snagged another great find, I believe.

    1. fredwilson

      dlambert – i agree with the “not quite as revolutionary” comment. it’s very useful but not always useful. the great thing is its never in my way if i don’t want it. my hope is that continued refinement of their algorithms plus the introduction of additional content sources will make it increasingly revolutionary. we think the best web services just keep getting better and better as more people use them and we think that will be the case with Zemanta

  8. josh guttman

    Congratulations Bos, Ales and Fred!! Exciting.”AdWords for content”? That sounds very familiar:)

  9. gregorylent

    would you use it on your blog?it is the future, no doubt, multi-media everything, just like life itself.and another addition to the broadband pipes that isp’s want to throttle?

    1. fredwilson

      i do use it on my blog

  10. Philip Baddeley

    I picked up Zemanta from your posts and it helps me with my blog. It is a pity that the user cannot train it or add URLs and phrases; or at least I cannot directly. Zemanta means we all need pictures in Flickr. Any more details on the sort of deal you have done? Will you flip Zemanta to Delaware? Will you be bringing in a CEO? Any details on the equity so we an learn how you have put the deal together and what others might expect?

    1. fredwilson

      all of this will be figured out in good time Philip. for sure the tech team will stay in slovenia where they have built a real powerhouse team.

    2. fredwilson

      philip – i just read this on the zemanta bloghttp://www.zemanta.com/blog…”The development part of the team is working hard to finalize our next release: Zemanta is Getting Personal! With the release, we shifted our tool from being a general suggestion service to personalized service. You’ll be able to upload your sources and limit the suggestion pool to your sources, you’ll be able to search through your Flickr account and point Zemanta to your Twitter account to get related blogs from your friends.”

  11. Siminoff

    Congrats on this one. I have been using them for a while and really find the service adds value.Jamie

  12. StevenWillis

    I have been using Zemanta on my blog for a while and really like the professionalism it adds to my posts with little to no effort. I am very new to the blogging world, but I expect this will be a part of my posting routine.

  13. Noah David Simon


    1. fredwilson

      i think it works on blogger. if you use firefox or IE, try downloading the plug-in and see if it comes up in the blogger posting window

  14. jer979

    Been using Zemanta for about 2 months now and am very impressed. It adds richness to the reader experience. I was even impressed by their customer support (had an issue with the automatic Amazon affiliate ID) to which they responded pretty quickly (though honestly, it still doesn’t seem to work all the time, particularly in WLW).What would be a nice add-on would be some ‘digg-like’ rating system so that I know which of the suggested links are MOST relevant w/o having to look at EVERY single link.Anyway, kudos on a nice portfolio add.

    1. Mark Evans

      It would be great if Zemanta was integrated into third-party publishing tools such as Ecto as well given I find WP’s publishing tool to not be very user-friendly.I’ll have to give Zemanta another try. When I used it a few months ago, I found it more intrusive and balky than a value-add service.

      1. Andraz Tori

        We would love to work with Ecto guys to bring Zemanta experience there, and everywhere where the authors are. Part of that strategy is also an open API that can be used by your publishing tool of choice.Please give us feedback on what you liked and what you didn’t, so we can improve the next time around.

  15. maeo

    Fred, Congratulations! Did you invest in a British corporation, a Delaware company or directly to Slovenia?

    1. fredwilson

      british company

  16. MartinEdic

    I’ve been using Zemanta since they first announced and I think it works much better than I expected. Sometimes the matching is too broad but that kind of thing will get refined over time. The real story in my opinion is the automation of certain social aspects of content creation. If they can get that right things could get very interesting.

    1. Dalka

      Yeah what he said. It’s the first plugin in a long time that made me say “whoa, this has potential.”It’s not perfect, but it has alot of potential.One thing is that I’ve not yet seen it use my content elsewhere or redistribute it….

      1. fredwilson

        dalka, that’s coming soonhttp://www.zemanta.com/blog…

  17. leigh

    Been using it for a while. Looking forward to them having investment and to see what they do with the images search piece. Congrats….Nice to see investment in countries and companies outside the USA,

    1. fredwilson

      i didn’t see your post it in zemanta but the VB one was there.

  18. Andraz Tori

    Thanks for noticing. Yeah, we know about the problems with WLW and they are getting fixed in Thursday release. We called current WLW plugin “technical preview” because we knew there are always issues with first version.Well our idea is to deliver the the most relevant content, full stop. 🙂 You might be interested in our “what’s popular” site too.. http://www.zemanta.com/popular These are most suggested articles by Zemanta.

    1. Guest

      I have been using Zemanta at the Social Media Philosophy Project for awhile. Timelady and I, who primarily run the site, both like it a great deal. We replaced Tagaroo with it, which while it gets more pics, does not really do anything else as well. I also hung out with the community manager while I was at Wordcamp, and he was very helpful. Overall, it seems like a definite winner in the long term. I think the main competition, OpenCalais (Tagaroo) is too all over the place to provide any one thing well enough. (just my opinion as of right now, OpenCalais folks, no offense).

  19. mikedibenedetto

    Just noticed that Zemanta’s “Related Articles” are included in GReader (and probably other RSS readers as well). I have used Sphere and liked it but this is a big improvement. Very very interesting.

    1. fredwilson

      Sphere’s related articles are machine produced. Zemanta’s are machine recommended and human selected. That’s a very big difference as wellBut you right about getting into the feed. That also happens because the content producer includes them in the post at the time of creation

  20. tacanderson

    I’ve been using Zemanta for a while and love the service. Finally got to meet the guys at BlogWorld. They are obviously passionate about what they do and will be fun to watch them evolve. Great job on the investment.

  21. Mike Evans

    I started using Zemanta on knowist.com after seeing it used here. One of the most enabling technologies I’ve encountered. Fantastic!

    1. fredwilson

      It’s the greatest little secret in our portfolioAnd now they are recommending youtube videosThis morning they recommended two interesting videos to my while I was writing the skype postI didn’t select them, but I could have easily

      1. Mike Evans

        I first used it reposting a paragraph from one of your posts a few weeks back. Now I don’t know how I lived without it. It really helps with 2 things:1) giving me relevant links to create deeper, more thoughtful posts2) increasing the conversation aspect of my blog and moving away from a 1 way communication. Fantastic!

  22. fredwilson

    you just click on them and they appear at the bottom of the post