Real estate marketing platform and Techstars Boston grad Placester has raised $5.5 million in Series A funding, the company is announcing today, after having grown its business to power over 70,000 real estate professionals' websites, and reach a larger community of over 100,000. The company will be using the additional capital to grow its new platform for publishers, including Hearst, who will be using Placester to replace their legacy real estate sections with Placester's service. The publisher platform offers consumer search, real estate inventory info and related ad products, the company says. The new round was led by Placester's seed round lead Romulus Capital, and included participation from existing investors Dave Anderson (Kiva, Silverpop), Josh Summers (Clypd, Where.com), David Cohen (Founder of Techstars), Adam Berrey (Curoverse, Brightcove, Allaire) and Angel Street Capital. To date, the company has raised $8 million in outside investment. Founded in 2009 by a former real estate agent, Matt Barba, Placester's core product was conceived thanks to Barba's first-hand experience with the difficulties in getting real estate data online. Realtors have to pull their data from MLS (Multiple Listing Service – the regional entity where real estate professionals enter and store homes that are available for sale or rent), then pay for an IDX integration allowing customers to search their listings. This can be expensive because there are 900 MLSes across the U.S., and the information retrieval methods for these are not standardized. Plus, the existing website providers were also often slow to deliver, or used out-of-date technology. The end result was a lot of realtors' with out-of-date websites, due to the complexities and headaches involved. Placester's solution is to offer realtors maintenance-free websites based on WordPress and optimized for SEO, which are also mobile and tablet-friendly. The sites include the set up, hosting and MLS fees. Placester also uses its own technology to retrieve and update the MLS data to keep the sites current. Now it's expanding upon its earlier technology with a product for local media companies and a nationwide deal with Hearst Corporation, which will see Placester integrated into the websites for local papers, beginning with The Connecticut Post, the first to launch with Placester. According to Barba, the Hearst deal includes five papers, with The Houston Chronicle, The San Francisco Chronicle, The San Antonio Express-News and The Albany Times Union next to arrive. If all goes well, Hearst could consider expanding Placester to its larger network of 13 local papers. The company is also talking with other publishers for similar deals. Barba declined to offer details at to Placester revenue, but would note that the service has been growing at 20% month over month in revenue and customer acquisition for the last 12 months. Today, the company is a team of 34 and is hiring across engineering, sales and marketing with the expectation of reaching the low 40's in headcount by year-end.
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