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…