Investors throw Dogster a bone

The stock market may have gone to the dogs, but at least some Web 2.0 startups are still lapping up the financing.


, a light-hearted website launched in January 2004, and which once eschewed venture capital, has raised $447,000 from eight investors, according to a regulatory filing.

The only investor listed on the regulatory filing was The Peter Rieman & Deborah Rieman Living Trust Agreement. Peter Rieman is an executive vice president and cofounder of software-as-a-service company Retail Solutions. Deborah Rieman is a software executive and former CEO of Check Point Software.

San Francisco-based Dogster raised $1 million from a consortium of angel investors in 2006. The individuals in that round included Brad Feld of The Foundry Group, Frank Caufield of Darwin VC, Jim Young of Hot or Not, Aydin Senkut of Felicis Ventures and Jean-Francois “Jeff” Clavier, founder and managing partner of SoftTech VC, a Palo Alto, Calif.-based firm that consults and makes angel investments in consumer Internet startups.

In April 2004, Ted Rheingold, Dogster’s self-titled Top Dog, told PE Week affiliate publication Venture Capital Journal that he wasn’t interested in VC because he wanted Dogster to “maintain its whimsy.”

He also said: “The minute fun is no longer the driving factor behind what happens to Dogster, the users will recognize that and slowly move away. The minute Petco wants to sponsor the site and have input on what content goes where, there goes the whimsy. The same is the case when VC comes in.”

But Rheingold, who also operates a feline social networking site called Catser, made those comments not long after the Web 1.0 bubble burst. Now that there’s real money to be made, Dogster is more than happy to lap up investors’ money—and advertising.

The Dogster website makes the following plea to advertisers: “Dogster and Catster are fun sites with a serious mission to celebrate fluffy love. Dogster is serving over 15 million pages a month on average and Catster is serving over 7 million pages a month. We offer good advertising opportunities for good companies.”

Investor interest in Web 2.0 companies apparently caused Dogster to change its mind about accepting funding. Clavier previously told PE Week that Dogster “turned down a lot of offers” of venture funding before it accepted the angel funding two years ago.

In September 2005, Clavier made a case on his blog for why Dogster could be a good investment. He quoted Rheingold: “Yes, Dogster & Catster are profitable.… We offset [expenses] and then some thanks to higher than expected revenue for site sponsorship, advertising, paid user subscriptions as well as our revenue from store sales and pet-friendly travel bookings. The fact that Nintendo and ASPCA just committed to sponsor-level support and others are in final negotiation really helps me feel that it’s no longer crazy to think it’s so crazy it just might work.”