A Condé Nast Widget Funded by Mark Cuban

From a New York media perspective, one of the most salient portions of Indianapolis Star business reporter Jeff Swiatek’s excellent chronicle of the rise of 2011 startup ZergNet reads as follows:

Condé Nast began using ZergNet about a year ago and credits it for increasing monthly traffic on its websites by the hundreds of thousands of new visitors, said Peter Cheng, director of business development and innovation.

Cheng said ZergNet offers publishers “traditional traffic-trading made easy… Plus the content recommendation algorithm of an OutBrain, and the human curation and headline writing of a BuzzFeed. Their secret sauce is combining all of the above into one.”

How did content curator ZergNet makes its way from humble beginnings to a Quantcast #48 ranking among U.S. websites and hundreds of top-flight media clients? It’s a rich, long story that principally involves Mark Cuban, a fellow alum of Indiana University. Cuban provided $30,000 in seed funding to founder Reggie Renner in 2012 and has since ponied up much more.

The largest Web concern based in Indiana has 12 employees, two of which work out of a small New York City office. Renner is a low-key kind of guy, but admits to Swiatek that recently in Manhattan, he had to adjust to the new realities of his ZergNet success:

Last month, at the urging of investors, Renner took top executives from one of ZergNet’s largest customers to a $400-a-plate dinner in New York. “I am completely out of my element in that environment, but it goes a long way in building relationships and comes with the job,” Renner said. “I would much prefer meeting at a Steak ‘n Shake, but that doesn’t fly in New York City.”

Ha ha. Read the rest of Swiatek’s article here.

[Screen grab via: zergnet.com]

@hollywoodspin rhorgan@gmail.com Richard Horgan is co-editor of Fishbowl.