News analytics platform Newswhip has closed a $2.5 million (€2.2 million) debt funding round as the company seeks to accelerate its growth in the coming year.
The funding comes from Element Finance, the second the company has made in Ireland. The debt is non-dilutive, meaning Element does not take an equity stake in the company.
The funding will be used to invest in the product, further developing it to generating real-time insight about the spread of news and information, and also grow its team, with staff expected to grow by a third in the coming year.
Newswhip started the year with 22 people on its engineering team, with plans to grow to 50 by the end of next year. The company said it would add new roles in data engineering, software development, and machine learning and artificial intelligence.
Founded in 2011 by Andrew Mullaney and Paul Quigley, Newswhip's main business is in tracking the spread of news stories and narratives across the web and social networks, using its technology to predict the stories that are likely to go viral.
Among its clients are the Associated Press, Condé Nast and the Washington Post, along with non-government organisations (NGOs) such as Amnesty International, Médecins Sans Frontières and the World Health Organisation.
However, the company has also seen a new market for its work with big name brands.
“Brands have been turning to us more and more to quantify and understand all the stories and narratives that they want to watch about themselves, and about political and social issues,” said Mr Quigley. “So just like newsrooms use us to know which stories are going to be important today, now brands like McDonald’s and Ford are using us for for that, and that’s been our biggest growth area this year.”
Revenue from brands has grown about 60 per cent over the past 12 months, Mr Quigley said, and the company intends to focus further on that market in the coming months in what he described a “major change in gear” for Newswhip.
“It’s a time when all these narratives and stories are clashing, especially around public policy things like vaccines and politics. There’s no good technology tracking what’s happening, which stories are dominating, which stories are programming people, which stories are engaging people.
“We now think there’s a need for that technology in the market and we want to be the world leader at it. We want to go from being a niche technology to being more of a must-have technology for brands as well as for newsrooms.”
That focus will help its original clients too, as both brands and NGOs would use the same platform, meaning any further development would be available to all sides of the business.
Although Newswhip has $2.5 million secured, Mr Quigley said the company would be looking at further investment next year to continue to scale.