Skift Raises $1.1 Million in New Seed Money

Travel news and information site plans to double staff

The travel news and information site Skift has announced plans to double its staff from five to 10 people after raising $1.1 million in new seed money.

Lerer Ventures led the round of financing, with contributions by Advancit Capital, Ironfire Angel, Mesa+, and Growlab/LX Ventures.

One new hire has already been made public. Jessica Plautz, who starts this month, comes to Skift from the Investigative News Network. At Skift, she will focus on social media and audience development, said Rafat Ali, Skift's CEO and founder. Two developers, a head of sales, and an editorial staffer will round out the new hires, Ali said.

Once a head of sales is in place, the site intends to explore native advertising, the trend of the moment among both digital upstarts and established publishers alike. While Skift's flavor of sponsored content is still very much in development, Ali said one of his ideas is to run full-screen, native ads in video form. Video works particularly well in the travel space, he said.

And the hiring of additional developers points to Skift's focus on data, Ali said. "For us, the key as we build and grow from here beyond just the media part,, is to focus on the data services that we think will have the long term potential of scaling," he said.

Indeed, the site plans to launch two subscription services in June, a data product and a media product. The former will be geared toward the PR and marketing side of the tourism and hotel industry. The latter will be a travel trends report, Ali said.

Ali, who founded PaidContent, said that the site's recent investors understand Skift's combination of media and data. "I think they see us as one of the sort of pioneers in trying to figure that out. That's why I think they're investing," he added.