Heard of Livefyre? This tech biz raised $15m, bought Storify and just opened in London

Founder Jordan Kretchmer on why he’s come here and his plans

Social media curation firm Livefyre is having a great month.

Last week, the San Francisco-based company acquired social storytelling tool Storify, which is used by everyone from the Royal family to David Cameron’s office. This week the company opened an office in London, just off Bond Street.

For those who haven’t heard of Livefyre, it’s built the “internet’s first social content management system” and provides tools like plugins, live-blogging, and live chat to online publishers. It has over 400 clients including American Idol, Conde Nast, TIME, the New York Times and News UK, Times Online and Time Out Global.

Founded in 2009, the firm has raised over $20m, with $15m in series C funding in February.

Founder and CEO Jordan Kretchmer thinks that London’s thriving tech, publishing and advertising scenes drew him to open an office here. So how will he cash on them?

Q. How did you come up with the idea for Livefyre?

I was working for American television channel Current TV, struggling with how to build more active social communities on our site.

People were talking all over the web about our content, and about topics that I wanted on our own sites. The idea for Livefyre struck me when I considered how powerful it would be to build a platform that supported the same kind of real-time interactions that social networks did, and actually use conversations happening on social networks to fuel more discussion on our own site.

So I left Current TV and set out to build the internet’s first social content management system, Livefyre StreamHub, which is the platform product that we sell today.

Q. How much money have you raised so far?

More than $20m, which includes $15m in Series C funding in February, $4.5m in Series B funding in 2011, and $800,000 in Series A funding in 2010.

Q. What are your revenue streams?

Livefyre StreamHub is a SaaS [Software as a Service] platform that is sold for an annual subscription fee. Subscription packages can be configured to meet the specific needs of each client and range from $50,000 to $1.5m annually. In addition, we also recently launched our social native advertising group, which generates revenue for Livefyre, as well as our enterprise media and publishing customers. Livefyre also is a strategic advisor for many of our customers, and we offer hourly professional services to deliver strategic consulting and technology integration.

Q. What’s been the biggest challenge in running the business?

Livefyre’s biggest challenge is scaling our teams quickly enough, at a high enough quality, to deliver on the expectations of our more than 450 customers internationally. We are extremely picky about who we hire, which means we interview far more people [than other companies] to find the best of the best in each market that we operate in.

Q. How have you managed to bag big UK clients?

Livefyre’s first ever paying customer was actually UK-based: News International (now News UK).

Over the last few years I’ve been extremely impressed with the UK business community’s thought leadership, willingness to take risks and innovate.

Since then we’ve been able to build relationships with other UK-based publishers who have seen the success we’ve had working for leading US publishers such as TIME, The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and FOX.

Q. Why are you opening a London office?

London has huge tech, publishing, and brand/marketer communities. So it only makes sense for us to have a presence here. And again, the thought leadership and appetite for innovation excite us about this market.

Q. Why did you acquire Storify and for how much?

I’ve admired Storify for over four years now. Their founders [Xavier Damman and Burt Herman] and I share very similar visions for the future of news, information, and content creation.

That shared vision led to two different but highly complementary products, and made it extremely simple for us to recognise the benefits of acquiring them.

Giving editors, journalists, and brands the ability to easily curate stories that are relevant to their audiences will be a huge addition to our platform, which already delivers other kinds of aggregation and social products.

I’m afraid I can’t share the details of the acquisition terms.

Q. How will you integrate Storify into Livefyre?

Livefyre customers will be able to centrally manage both automated and editorial curation from the same moderation user interface, and in the future, be able to drag-and-drop specific tweets and posts into any Livefyre application, including real-time comments, live blogs, live chats, media walls and native ads.

Our existing customers will also be able to create Storify Galleries right on their own sites to show off all the great stories being created by their journalists and even audience members.

Thanks for your time Jordan.

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