eForce Media, a Santa Monica-based online lead generation startup, is closing a $4 million round of financing right now according to an SEC filing. Assuming the raise is successful, the company will have collected close to $18 million from Clearstone Venture Partners, the Edgewater Funds, and a long line of active L.A. angel investors, including the company’s founder, Matt Hill. (Hill also cofounded Shopping.com, which sold to Compaq in 1998 for $220 million.)
I called the three-and-a-half-year-old company earlier to learn a little more. I also emailed Jim Armstrong of Clearstone Ventures, who sits on its board, but I haven’t yet heard back from anyone. (Honestly, is everyone in this industry already at his or her second home in Montana for the summer?)
It’s interesting that the company has raised so much money. A few years ago, such straightforward lead generation companies were minting money and uninterested in VC (unless it was so a founder could take some cash off the table). The market for online lead generation startups has become seriously overcrowded since, though I don’t know that stiff competition drove this particular financing.
In the meantime, eForce just two weeks ago replaced longtime CEO Anthony Mazzarella with Jeffrey Schwartz, who’s had some big jobs. Specifically, for five years, he was the CEO of publicly traded Autobytel, a job he landed after serving as CEO of AutoWeb (also publicly traded). More recently, Schwartz had founded Vertical Passion Media, which sounds like a San Fernando porn company but apparently refers to Schwartz’s passion for automotive classifieds. (It was itself a lead generation company that centered on them.) The company was absorbed by eForce shortly before Schwartz’s new appointment was announced.