SodaHead.com -- a question-and-answer and polling site co-founded by former MySpace exec Jason Feffer -- is attempting to cement its position as the Web's official "social newspaper" of record. Armed with the slogan "What's bubbling in your head?," the LA-based startup has augmented its layout to prominently display breaking news and news-based polls and discussions, and added features to make discussions more user-friendly, and connect people of similar opinions.
"The Web was lacking a platform for a large base of people to form connections based on their views and opinions," said SodaHead president and co-founder Michael Glazer.
What about the social networking tools that hundreds of newspapers and various other publications now feature on their sites? "That usually amounts to a comments section," said Glazer. "They lack any meaningful interaction among readers to engage, discuss and learn from each other."
What about popular social bookmarking site Digg.com? "Their user base is too homogeneous, and they lack community tools," said Feffer, a one-time VP of operations at MySpace.
What about Yahoo Answers? "It's trivia-, not opinion-based," Feffer said.
SodaHead is also reaching out to news publishers that are interested in generating more activity and engagement around their stories. To date, the New York Post and ABC News have added SodaHead polls to their sites, and similar deals are in the works, according to its founders. Launched in late 2007, the site presently has a community of roughly 2.5 million people who visit the site monthly, along with 1.3 million registered users.
To date, advertisers that have taken advantage of what Glazer calls the "deepest, richest targeting environment online" include McDonald's, Kohls, and the 2009 Olympic Congress. Glazer and Feffer originally planned to charge publishers a premium for using their technology platform -- a strategy the present economic downturn has made unrealistic.
The startup has so far raised over $12 million from the likes of Mission Ventures, Mohr Davidow Ventures, and the Tech Coast Angels, along with angel investor Ron Conway.