Widget Company Clearspring Raises $18 Million

Widget syndicator Clearspring Technologies has closed financing of $18 million in a third round of funding from New Enterprise Associates, Novak Biddle Venture Partners and other investors.

The McLean, Va.-based company also announced that New Enterprise Partner Harry Weller and Capital One co-founder Nigel Morris have joined former AOL heavyweights Ted Leonsis, Steve Case and Miles Gilburne on its board of directors. Clearspring has raised a total of $35 million in venture capital to date.

With the fresh cash infusion, the company plans to expand its widget advertising products and further develop its ad network that spans more than 80 social networking and other sites including MySpace, Facebook and Blogger.

Clearspring already tracks almost 4 billion widgets monthly, working with marketers that have included Honda, Snapple, Sprint, Disney, the NBA and Blockbuster. CEO Hooman Radfar said the company now wants to capitalize on the user data it has gathered since launching its platform in 2007 to increase efficiency and better target ads.

The company also plans to expand from 70 to about 100 employees by year's end, adding sales and operational staff and pushing into international markets.

Over the last two years, widgets have surged in popularity because--unlike pop-ups--their presence is controlled entirely by the users themselves and are generally used to complement social networking and blogging experiences.

According to comScore's Widget Metrix report, Clearspring alone had 126 million unique widget views in March. Widget ads, meanwhile, are expected to boost social network advertising by 70% to $1.6 billion in 2008, according to a recent projection by eMarketer.

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