About a week after Zynga, a game network that runs on Facebook and other social networking platforms raised its initial funding, comes news that widget maker Slide has raised $50 million in a fourth-round investment. Interestingly, the funding comes not from VCs but rather from the private equity funds of T Rowe Price and Fidelity. Investment bank Allen & Company helped Slide raise the funds.
According to PaidContent, the post-money valuation is a heady $550 million, a big leap from the estimated $60-80 million valuation late in 2006.
Slide is one of the leading widget developers, competing for top space with RockYou. Its first widget enabled users to display online slideshows (hence the name) but they have branched out with a bunch of new widgets including the popular Top Friends, FunWall and SuperPoke, among others. Slide today claims more than 140 million unique viewers. The widget maker has effectively ridden the growth of social networks MySpace, Facebook, bebo, Orkut and hi5.
$50 million seems to me like a lot of capital for a business where development costs are modest and marketing even moreso. PaidContent indicates that Slide currently has 64 employees and will use the new capital to hire more staff. Kara Swisher at All Things D adds that the company also plans to use the funds for acquisitions. Since most of the popular social net widgets have been built by individual developers, that still seems like a lot of cash. But, with the current hype around social networks, I guess the plan is to grab the cash while it's offered, then figure out how to spend it later.