Interview with J.B. Holston, President and CEO of NewsGator

From time to time, techrockies interviews local executives, entrepreneurs, and investors in the Rocky Mountain region to get some insight into their companies. This morning, we have an interview with J.B. Holston, President and CEO of Newsgator (, a firm on the cutting edge of providing software and services for reading and monitoring RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feeds. RSS feeds are heavily used by blogs and news sites for distributing their information. Newsgator is backed by Masthead Venture Partners and Mobius Venture Capital.

Techrockies: Thanks for the interview. What's RSS syndication, and how does NewsGator fit into this market?

Holston: RSS is a lightweight XML format that makes web publishing dynamic, archivable and searchable. NewsGator develops and markets several RSS aggregators that allow users to subscribe to many "feeds" in one convenient location allowing the user to scan online content in a much more efficient manner than traditional "surfing."

Techrockies: What kinds of products does NewsGator provide, and how are people using your products?

Holston: NewsGator develops and markets RSS aggregators for Microsoft Outlook, Windows desktop, Mac OS X desktop, Online, Mobile and Windows Media Center platforms. Uses of the product vary. Some people use our aggregators for personal use to keep up with their favorite blogs and websites. Businesses use our products to keep up-to-date with customer activity, competitive information, and research.

NewsGator has also developed NewsGator Enterprise Server for large scale, enterprise-wide content aggregation in a secure environment. Companies are using this product for aggregating both internal and external feeds.

Finally, NewsGator offers online publishers Private Label aggregation products and services. Online publishers can now harness the power of RSS aggregation while maintaining their brand identity.

Techrockies: What's NewsGator's competitive advantage over such online services such as Bloglines?

Holston: One key advantage is that we offer consumers so many choices. For example, if you have a Mac at home, a PC at work and a PDA, your feeds will synchronize across the different devices (e.g., if you read a feed while commuting to work on your PDA, it will appear as "read" when you continue to read your feeds on your PC at work).

NewsGator offers a free online aggregator and NetNewsWire Lite for the Mac OS X, which is also free. Most of NewsGator products are subscription based. The subscriptions increase in price as more features are included.

In addition to the individual end use products, NewsGator Enterprise Server (NGES) is a key product advantage. NewsGator was first-to-market with an enterprise-class aggregation solution. To date, there are no direct competitors in this space.

Techrockies: How is NewsGator funded and when did you last receive funding?

Holston: NewsGator has received 3 rounds of funding. Rounds A and B are with Mobius Venture Capital. Round C is with Masthead Venture Partners. We received round C in April of 2005.

Techrockies: How did you end up at NewsGator from running Ziff Davis's International operations?

Holston: After running ZD International through the LBO and sale of the company to Softbank, I ran another start-up called Netsage, which was rolled up and ultimately sold to Convergys, the largest outsourced call center company in the U.S. I then took a couple of years on other projects including a few non-profit and for-profit start-ups before Mobius (NewsGator's lead investor) contacted me about becoming NewsGator's CEO.

Techrockies: Thanks!