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Domain name start-up Winged Media gets $3 million Carnegie Innovation Fund backing

Wednesday, 2 November 2011 | By Oliver Milman

Winged Media, a domain name trading start-up, has pulled off a $3 million investment deal with the Carnegie Innovation Fund, for a minority stake in the business, said to be “less than 10%.”

 

The deal, which values the business at more than $30 million, is the first of its kind in a tech company by the Carnegie venture capital firm, which was founded by Mark Carnegie last year. It manages around $200 million in committed capital across various funds.

 

Winged Media, which was launched in December 2009, will use the investment to expand its presence in the US. Currently, it has 23 members of staff in Australia, with a further two in a new office in Santa Monica, California.

 

The business focuses on a range of services in the digital media, online advertising and online publishing.

 

Its core business, however, is a professional domain trading service. It buys domain names, builds websites and then sells them on for a profit.

 

The Carnegie Fund’s backing will allow it to develop and launch a new platform, called Protrada.

 

The platform is an aggregator of major domain providers, allowing members to buy, build and sell domains themselves. Protrada already manages more than 150,000 domains.

 

Troy Rushton, founder and CEO of Winged Media, says that the start-up has strong growth potential.

 

“I think there’s an overwhelming need for this new platform, which has helped us get here now,” he says. “We are very focused on the US. We’ve been thinking about scaling the business on a global basis for a long time, rather than just focus on Australia.”

 

“We have no fixed horizon as to our growth, but I imagine that we will consider our options in the next few years. I think you could assume there will be a trade sale at some point. We’ve already had some indications from big players that they are keeping an eye on our progress.”

 

Mark Carnegie, principal of M.H. Carnegie & Co, adds: “We are excited about our investment with Winged Media.”

 

“Domaining has increased its momentum throughout 2011, with activity levels outperforming the NASDAQ during key periods.”