RSS, one of the key and famous technology of web2.0 used to attract lots of attention in web industry. Although services such as Bloglines, Newsgator and Netvibes are still active, it is Google Reader holds the market dominance. RSS is still important, but lacking of reliable business model may let you think if RSS market is dying. However, a few days ago, Xianguo, one of very few survived Chinese independent online RSS reader announced its first round investment of $1 million. Obviously, the news sent us the signal, there might be some hope there, still.
We had a quick chat with LIANG Gongjun, the ex-Sina staff and founder of Xianguo, a very humble and hard-working guy.
Xianguo is founded by Gongjun in June 2007. It is not the first local service in Chinese online RSS reader market. Zhuaxia used to be the leader but Xianguo quickly beat it with better online platform. Without probably any income for Zhuaxia, sadly rumor already said Zhuaxia has went to the dead pool. Gongjun managed to get Xianguo running for nearly 3 years with the earning from his another small team which is taking web development projects. Now, Xianguo has several millions users and partnered with Baidu, Sina, Hexun, Tom, Yahoo, Alibaba, CSDN, Blogub etc providing RSS reader service.
NO hope, if you only rely on RSS
“If you only rely on simple RSS business (such as RSS subscription), there is NO hope.” Gongjun said so. Besides Google Reader, only QQ Reader and Youdao Reader and Xianguo are active in Chinese rss market, and obviously Xianguo is the only independent service. Google Reader is backed by the giant Google, QQ Reader is operated by Tencent, Youdao is run by the portal, Netease. “Still no reliable revenue model for rss and startups in this market are hard to survive. ” Gongjun said.
The hope is in the Mobile market
$1 million is in the pocket which basically indicates there is some hope. Microblogging service has become a very important resource for people reading and sharing the news. Gongjun understood the trend so Xianguo launched its microblogging service named Lianbo in December 2009. “But we are NOT going to be another Twitter-clone and Lianbo is meant to improve the user experience when users are reading feeds.” Gongjun told us. So what would be the next focus for Xianguo? “The mobile market”, Gongjun said, “More and more users are reading news on their mobile devices. So we want them to be able to easily use Xianguo at anywhere and any time. ” In the latest post on Xianguo’s official blog, we read, “we are looking for iPhone, Android, Symbian, WM and WAP developers”.
You may still question about what exactly Xianguo’s revenue model would be. LIANG Gongjun wouldn’t worry about that in next one or two years, and the answer will be getting more clear when Xianguo become the leading mobile RSS reader. So we have to wait!