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Topix is pretty much the opposite of a hot young startup. It launched in 2004, raised investment dollars from newspaper chains rather than Silicon Valley venture capitalists, and its core audience is suburban and rural.
But the sometimes rough-and-tumble talk (if not outright defamatory—there have been libel suits) on its forums attracts 10 million unique visitors every month, and the company has big plans for 2012. The site, which started out as a forum for community discussion, has become increasingly focused on politics, says CEO Chris Tolles.