RSS Is Dead, So Is The RSS Fund

Three months ago, Steve Gillmor wrote that “it’s time to get completely off RSS and switch to Twitter.” Sam Diaz piled on last week, calling RSS a Web 1.0 application whose time has passed. And things got even worse today, when news leaked that former Feedburner chief Dick Costello has agreed to join Twitter as chief operating officer.

All of this made me wonder whatever happened to RSS Investors, a venture capital firm formed in 2005 to focus exclusvely on real simple syndication. What I learned was that RSS Investors is even deader than RSS.

RSS Investors was the brainchild of Jim Moore and John Palfrey, both of whom hailed from the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School. Neither had too much VC experience, so they teamed up with former GE Capital pros Richard Fishman and Steve Smith. Pretty good team, albeit one with a strategy so narrow that it caused claustrophobia among skeptics.

Perhaps more importantly, RSS Investors never really had much money. The firm launched with a press release touting “the creation of a $100 million fund,” but that was basically a PR stunt. RSS Investors wanted to raise $100 million, but had only $20 million from a cornerstone commitment by Ritchie Capital. As Palfrey told me today, it never raised additional funds (Palfrey adds that Ritchie Capital’s subsequent troubles played no role in RSS Investors’ demise).

The firm made a series of investments, in companies like Attensa, KnowNow (defunct) and Edgeio (assets sold to Vast.com). But new deals stopped when RSS Investors ran out of cash, and the decision was made to close up shop.

“We never officially dissolved the fund, but we stopped making investments and everyone’s moved on to other things,” said Palfrey, who now teaches law at Harvard and is a venture executive with Highland Capital Partners. “The only active investment we have left is StyleFeeder, here in Cambridge.”

So when saying RIP for RSS, don’t forget to put in a word for RSS Investors…

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38 Comments

  • Wow, talk about old news – they died awhile back in 2006. People were talking about their demise as soon as it began.

  • “Leave RSS and go to Twitter”? What exactly is he talking about? These people are aware that many many people run their Twitter accounts by piping an RSS feed into them, right?

  • [...] http://www.pehub.com/49053/rss-is-dead-so-is-the-rss-fund/ a few seconds ago from web [...]

  • Why would any one think that rss should be abandoned for twitter…What the hell !!!!!
    RSS is an “Open” standard owned by everyone…Twitter is a private “Closed” source company owned by a few. Do we want a company to own the standard for updating information ?

  • yeah nobody subscribes to pod casts these days ;-)

  • [...] RSS Is Dead, So Is The RSS Fund [...]

  • RSS may be dead as an investment, but as a useful application, it’s doing just fine…and people are building on it in intelligent ways (see LazyFeed). So, all of this talk is totally beside the point.

  • What a pile of pseudo marketing crap. Twitter will be off the stage as fast as it emerged when it doesn’t start making revenues. Whoever thinks Twitter is a replacement technology for RSS, doesn’t know the first thing about RSS.

  • Funny, I happened to find this stroy via Techmeme’s RSS feed. Pretty good for something so dead. Must have been a zombie.

    I kinda get where RSS has been replaced by friend feeds on social networks for a lot of people. But I don’t see how it can replace RSS for everybody. A lot of the most followed people on Twitter are using RSS to share stories for instance. It’s not gonna die. It’ll live on along side social feeds for a long time.

  • Um. No. I found this post via the Hacker News RSS feed…

  • I think RSS/Atom aren’t going anywhere in the near future. Why? I think the next revision of the web will be Pushbutton, a technology to deliver content in realtime. Pushbutton is a whole set of different technologies and RSS/Atom are amongst them.

    This article will explain better: http://dashes.com/anil/2009/07/the-pushbutton-web-realtime-becomes-real.html

  • Sorry, I just got parachuted here through some RSS feed, I think – but this is so braindead I can hardly believe it. Investing VC money into RSS?? What’s next, a $100 Million “ASCII Investors” fund?

  • Ok first of all I don’t have a twitter account and don’t plan on getting one any time soon. However, I follow multiple twitter accounts and I just find it more convienient to use an all encompassing application like RSS Owl that allows me to see not only when new content is published, but also a brief summary of what the content is about. I acknowledge Twitter’s popularity, however I don’t see how RSS is dead

  • “… But new deals stopped when RSS Investors ran out of cash …”

    Does that mean they invested a total of $20 million, or was it less?

    Any idea of the return?

  • [...] seen a couple of “RSS is dead” headlines in the last few days, and even though I am on vacation I couldn’t resist a [...]

  • HAHAH take that Dave Winer, you suck as does RSS!

  • RSS is plumbing. It isn’t going anywhere. Why would I lock myself into Twitter voluntarily? It is just a dumb proposition and I find it really interesting that you are doing so. What is your motivation? RSS is everywhere.

    Oh, and podcasting is seeing a renaissance right now with more and more people consuming podcasts on a regular basis. And RSS is only one of many methods to obtain podcasts.

    Just because you don’t use it doesn’t mean others don’t.

    What makes your post even more stupid is that your site is using RSS feeds and that is how I found out you wrote this post. Go ahead, make your readers out to be stupid. You won’t keep them for long.

  • [...] people have been calling for widespread abandonment of RSS, a simple, dominant update publishing technology developed as a way of syndicating content [...]

  • [...] founder Dick Costolo became COO of Twitter, the blog danced on RSS’ grave. Today, PEHub wonders what that means for RSS Investors, a Cambridge-based private equity firm started by John Palfrey in [...]

  • RSS/Atom are open standards for publishing parseable aggregations of data and related metadata. Twitter is a proprietary platform for publishing discrete pieces of content, with metadata accessible through effort via an API.

    Apples don’t look much like oranges, although they both grow on trees.

    RSS/Atom work great for sharing, Twitter works great for boasting.

    Marketers look at Twitter and see actionable content. They look at RSS/Atom and see pointy brackets.

    Twitter is a location, RSS/Atom is a map to a location.

    People love to use Twitter because it just works, because it has very limited utility. RSS/Atom have much more utility, therefore you need to put effort into making them work.

    ROI is a ratio. If Twitter requires very little I, but nets 100% R, it’s an easy feather in your cap. If RSS/Atom requires a significant amount of I, but also nets 100%, it’s going to be scrutinized closely for possible budget cuts, even though it generates more total R than Twitter. That’s the perverse way management thinks. Don’t ask me why.

  • [...] writer Dam Primack circled back to find out what had become of RSS Investors, a company founded in 2005 in Cambridge, Massachusetts whose stated goals were to raise a $100 [...]

  • [...] writer Dam Primack circled back to find out what had become of RSS Investors, a company founded in 2005 in Cambridge, Massachusetts whose stated goals were to raise a $100 [...]

  • [...] writer Dam Primack circled back to find out what had become of RSS Investors, a company founded in 2005 in Cambridge, Massachusetts whose stated goals were to raise a $100 [...]

  • Steve Gilmor is correct that Twitter or FriendFeed could replace RSS and have partially done so already. The reality is that today you can subscribe to an RSS feed of Twitter posts and this just proves that RSS lives a a more foundational place in the Internet that is not going away anytime soon. I think that it is more likely that over time RSS will disappear into the fabric of the the communications on the Internet as these RSS feeds disappear into software and web-services to contine to deliver text, images and audio and video podcasts. These areas are still growing in use and would be silly to think that they would be going away ever.

  • [...] to find out if there was any truth to the idea that Twitter’s replacing RSS by checking out what had become of RSS Investors, a company founded in 2005 in Cambridge, Massachusetts whose stated goals were to raise a $100 [...]

  • [...] to find out if there was any truth to the idea that Twitter’s replacing RSS by checking out what had become of RSS Investors, a company founded in 2005 in Cambridge, Massachusetts whose stated goals were to raise a $100 [...]

  • [...] to find out if there was any truth to the idea that Twitter’s replacing RSS by checking out what had become of RSS Investors, a company founded in 2005 in Cambridge, Massachusetts whose stated goals were to raise a $100 [...]

  • Boy, I sure am glad I got the RSS feed today, linking me to this blog, to tell me that RSS is dead. I guess I should stop reading my RSS feed…since it’s dead.

  • [...] to find out if there was any truth to the idea that Twitter’s replacing RSS by checking out what had become of RSS Investors, a company founded in 2005 in Cambridge, Massachusetts whose stated goals were to raise a $100 [...]

  • ROTFPMGO

  • [...] about the death of RSS. It started with Steve Gillmor, moved on to Mike Arrington, continued with peHUB, and got so out of hand that Fred had to post about it. Read Fred’s post if you need more [...]

  • RSS is irrelevant … and thriving. It’s become the primary protocol for distributing not just news and info but … twitter! Also, our SocialSites business is booming — enterprise social computing on SharePoint. The EAI for Enterprise 2.0 is … RSS!

    (if this is a repost sorry — protocol for posting it yesterday apparently failed )

  • you are a know nothing knob end

  • [...] it’s not really interesting for end-users. This in turn means that there just isn’t any money in it. For certain websites, this of course equals to that tech being [...]

  • [...] RSS Is Dead, So Is The RSS Fund [...]

  • [...] RSS is NOT dead; Twitter has (ironically self-imposed) [...]

  • [...] it’s not really interesting for end-users. This in turn means that there just isn’t any money in it. For certain websites, this of course equals to that tech being [...]

  • [...] RSS Is Dead, So Is The RSS Fund Das beste an dem Beitrag sind die Kommentare (eine Erfahrung die ich recht häufig mache) [...]

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