Big Money for Lil Widgets? Widget Platforms Get Funded to the Tune of $50M! recently , $160M+ in Last Year

I recently blogged a post about recent widget new and trends and thought one of my point need further exploration!

Here are some widget developers and platforms that recently (last 6 months) raised money:

  • iWidget, a widget tools developer, raised $4.1 million in Series A funding in February 2009 from Opus Capital and University Venture Fund.
  • KickApps, a social media and widget platform, raised $14 million in Series C in December 2008 from North Atlantic Capital, and existing investors Softbank, Spark Capital, and Prism Ventures.
  • RockYou, a widget developer and ad network, raised a $17 million Series C in November 2008 from Softbank and SK Telecom Ventures. The company is also backed by Sequoia Capital and Lightspeed Venture Partners.
  • Gigya, a popular widget distribution platform, raised $11 million in Series C in October of 2008 from  DAG Ventures.
  • JS-Kit, Javascript widget platform provider, raised a $3.6 million Series B from Altos Ventures and existing investor The Entrepreneur's Fund III (TEF3).
  • Note: If you look a little further than 6 months you will notice ClearSpring raised $18 Million in May 2008 from New Enterprise Associates (NEA), look back a year and the amount becomes staggering $160 million+ with Slide raising $50 million in Jan 2008 as did WidgetBox raising $8 million form Sequoia capital, Gigya raising $9.5 million in March, Buddy Media with $6.4 million in April, RockYou raised $35 million in June and these are just the ones I know about. This does not include all the social ad networks or small "single purpose" widget companies.

Add up the numbers and its close to $50 million invested in the last 6 months, $160+ million invested in the last year or so if you look a little further - all this just on widget platform providers and developers! In the last couple of years, widgets have become the media marketing darlings of advertising companies on Madison Avenue. Hype from publications like Newsweek and GigaOm as well as ComScore's Widget Metrix report have only added fuel to the fire!

But based on these numbers you would think widgets were taking over the world. Hopefully most of these VC's have done their research, most however, have concluded that widgets are an opportunity they are banking on, but event $50M may be much! Many VC's such as David Cohen, have been bullish on widget while other like Lightspeed's Jerry Liew, Polaris Ventures' Sim Simeonov, and Union Square Venture's Fred Wilson have been more cautious. Most point to the lack of good business models (other than building them for a living). Personally, I tend to agree with Mobius Venture's Brad Feld the most who rightly concludes in his post on widgets:

While there might be room for one or two "widget management systems", there certainly isn't the need for 23 of them.

If 2007 has the "Year of the Widget", you can probably expect 2009 to be the "Year of Widget Fallout". While widgets continue to be one of the best marketing ideas around for "packaging a website in a box", how many widget platforms and networks and builders and generators do we really need?